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11 



H. P Lovecraf t 



Cthulu Mythos 



Collected works 



11 



Introduction 

This is a book that contains stories written by Howard Phihps Lovecraft that is 
beheved to be in the pubhc domain and were downloaded from the web. It was 
not created for profit - only for the purpose of having the stories in a singular 
location so as to be readily available for reading. The cover image is a 'doctored' 
photo that I took at Saint Kevin's Monastery, Ireland. The image was altered 
using the cartoon effect in GIMP. Use it as you wish. 



lU 



Table of Contents 

Notes On Writing Weird Fiction 1 

History of the Necronomicon 5 

At the Mountains of Madness 8 

Azathoth 92 

Beyond the Wall of Sleep 93 

Celephais 102 

Cool Air 107 

Dagon 114 

Dreams in the Witch-House 119 

Ex Oblivione 149 

Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family 151 

From Beyond 159 

He 165 

Herbert West: Reanimator 174 

Hypnos 199 

Ibid 205 

Imprisoned with the Pharaos 209 

InTheVauh 232 

Memory 239 

Nyarlathotep 240 

Pickman's Model 243 

Polaris 254 

The Alchemist 258 

The Beast in the Cave 265 

The Book 270 

The Call of Cthulhu 273 

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward 298 

The Cats of Ulthar 401 

The Colour Out of Space 404 

The Descendant 427 

The Doom That Came to Sarnath 430 

The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath 436 

The Dunwich Horror 518 

The Evil Clergyman 554 

The Festival 558 

The Haunter Of The Dark 566 

The Horror at Red Hook 586 



IV 



The Horror in the Museum 603 

1 603 

2 614 

The Hound 628 

The Music OF Erich Zann 635 

The Nameless City 642 

The Other Gods 652 

The Outsider 657 

The Picture in the House 663 

The Quest of Iranon 670 

The Rats in the Walls 676 

The Shadow Out of Time 693 

The Shadow Over Innsmouth 753 

The Shunned House 807 

The Silver Key 829 

The Statement of Randolph Carter 839 

The Strange High House in the Mist 845 

The Street 853 

The Temple 858 

The Terrible Old Man 869 

The Thing on the Doorstep 872 

The Tomb 894 

The Transition of Juan Romero 903 

The Tree 909 

The Unnamable 913 

The Very Old Folk 920 

The Whisperer in Darkness 925 

The White Ship 979 

What the Moon Brings 984 

Medusa's Coil - with Zealia Bishop 986 

Out of the Aeons - with Hazel Heald 1020 

Poetry and the Gods - with Anna Helen Crofts 1042 

The Crawling Chaos - with Elizabeth Berkeley 1048 

The Disinterment - with Duane W. Rimel 1054 

The Green Meadow - with Winifred V. Jackson 1064 

The Horror at Martin's Beach - with Sonia H. Greene 1069 

The Last Test - with Adolphe de Castro 1075 

The Man of Stone - with Hazel Heald 1117 

The Night Ocean - with R. H. Barlow 1130 

The Thing in the Moonlight - with J. Chapman Miske 1148 

The Trap - with Henry S. Whitehead 1150 

The Tree On The Hill - with Duane W. Rimel 1169 

Through the Gates of the Silver Key - with E. Hoffmann Price 1179 



V 



Till A' the Seas - with R. H Barlow 1210 

Two Black Bottles - with Wilfred Blai\ch Talman 1218 

Within the Walls of Eryx - with Kenneth Sterling 1229 

At the Root 1253 

Cats And Dogs 1255 

Letter to August Derleth 1267 

Metrical Regularity 1271 

The Allowable Rhyme 1274 

The Despised Pastoral 1278 

An American to Mother England 1280 

Astrophobos 1282 

Christmas Blessings 1284 

Christmastide 1285 

Despair 1286 

Fact and Fancy 1288 

Festival 1289 

Fungi from Yuggoth 1290 

I. The Book 1290 

II. Pursuit 1290 

III. The Key 1291 

IV. Recognition 1291 

V. Homecoming 1291 

VI. The Lamp 1292 

VIL Zaman's Hill 1292 

VIIL The Port 1293 

IX. The Courtyard 1293 

X. The Pigeon-Flyers 1294 

XL The Well 1294 

XIL The Howler 1294 

XIILHesperia 1295 

XIV. Star-Winds 1295 

XV. Antarktos 1296 

XVL The Window 1296 

XVIL A Memory 1297 

XVIIL The Gardens of Yin 1297 

XIX. The Bells 1297 

XX. Night-Gaunts 1298 

XXL Nyarlathotep 1298 

XXIL Azathoth 1299 

XXIIL Mirage 1299 

XXIV. The Canal 1300 

XXV. St Toad's 1300 

XXVL The Familiars 1300 



VI 



XXVII. The Elder Pharos 1301 

XXVIII. Expectaiicy 1301 

XXIX. Nostalgia 1302 

XXX. Backgroui\d 1302 

XXXI. The Dweller 1303 

XXXII. Alienation 1303 

XXXIII. Harbour Whistles 1303 

XXXIV. Recapture 1304 

XXXV. Evening Star 1304 

XXXVI. Continuity 1305 

Hallowe'en in a Suburb 1307 

Laeta; A Lament 1309 

Lines on General Robert Edward Lee 1311 

Little Tiger 1313 

Nathicana 1314 

Nemesis 1317 

Ode for July Fourth, 1917 1319 

On Reading Lord Dunsany's Book of Wonder 1320 

On Receiving a Picture of Swans 1321 

Pacifist War Song - 1917 1322 

Poemata Minora 1323 

Ode to Selene or Diana 1323 

To the Old Pagan Religion 1324 

On the Ruin of Rome 1324 

To Pan 1324 

On the Vanity of Human Ambition 1325 

Providence 1326 

Revelation 1328 

The Bride of the Sea 1330 

The Cats 1332 

The City 1333 

The Conscript 1335 

The Garden 1337 

The House 1338 

The Messenger 1340 

The Peace Advocate 1341 

Epilogue 1343 

The Poe-et's Nightmare 1344 

A Fable 1344 

Aletheia Phrikodes 1345 

The Rose of England 1352 

The Wood 1353 

To Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkelt, Eighteenth Baron Dunsany 1354 



Vll 



Tosh Bosh 1356 

Dead Passion's Flame 1356 

Arcadia 1356 

Waste Paper: A Poem of Profound Insignificance 1357 

1 1357 

II 1357 

III 1358 

IV 1359 

Where Once Poe Walked 1361 



vui 



IX 



Notes On Writing Weird Fiction 

H. P. Lovecraft 

My reason for writing stories is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more 
clearly and detailedly and stably the vague, elusive, fragmentary impressions of 
wonder, beauty, and adventurous expectancy which are conveyed to me by 
certain sights (scenic, architectural, atmospheric, etc.), ideas, occurrences, and 
images encountered in art and literature. I choose weird stories because they suit 
my inclination best - one of my strongest and most persistent wishes being to 
achieve, momentarily, the illusion of some strange suspension or violation of the 
galling limitations of time, space, and natural law which forever imprison us and 
frustrate our curiosity about the infinite cosmic spaces beyond the radius of our 
sight and analysis. These stories frequently emphasise the element of horror 
because fear is our deepest and strongest emotion, and the one which best lends 
itself to the creation of Nature-defying illusions. Horror and the unknown or the 
strange are always closely connected, so that it is hard to create a convincing 
picture of shattered natural law or cosmic alienage or "outsideness" without 
laying stress on the emotion of fear. The reason why time plays a great part in so 
many of my tales is that this element looms up in my mind as the most 
profoundly dramatic and grimly terrible thing in the universe. Conflict with time 
seems to me the most potent and fruitful theme in all human expression. 

While my chosen form of story-writing is obviously a special and perhaps a 
narrow one, it is none the less a persistent and permanent type of expression, as 
old as literature itself. There will always be a certain small percentage of persons 
who feel a burning curiosity about unknown outer space, and a burning desire to 
escape from the prison-house of the known and the real into those enchanted 
lands of incredible adventure and infinite possibilities which dreams open up to 
us, and which things like deep woods, fantastic urban towers, and flaming 
sunsets momentarily suggest. These persons include great authors as well as 
insignificant amateurs like myself - Dunsany, Poe, Arthur Machen, M. R. James, 
Algernon Blackwood, and Walter de la Mare being typical masters in this field. 

As to how I write a story - there is no one way. Each one of my tales has a 
different history. Once or twice I have literally written out a dream; but usually I 
start with a mood or idea or image which I wish to express, and revolve it in my 
mind until I can think of a good way of embodying it in some chain of dramatic 
occurrences capable of being recorded in concrete terms. I tend to run through a 
mental list of the basic conditions or situations best adapted to such a mood or 
idea or image, and then begin to speculate on logical and naturally motivated 



explanations of the given mood or idea or image in terms of the basic condition 
or situation chosen. 

The actual process of writing is of course as varied as the choice of theme and 
initial conception; but if the history of all my tales were analysed, it is just 
possible that the following set of rules might be deduced from the average 
procedure: 

1) Prepare a synopsis or scenario of events in the order of their absolute 
occurrence - not the order of their narration. Describe with enough fulness to 
cover all vital points and motivate all incidents planned. Details, comments, and 
estimates of consequences are sometimes desirable in this temporary framework 

2) Prepare a second synopsis or scenario of events - this one in order of narration 
(not actual occurrence), with ample fulness and detail, and with notes as to 
changing perspective, stresses, and climax. Change the original synopsis to fit if 
such a change will increase the dramatic force or general effectiveness of the 
story. Interpolate or delete incidents at will - never being bound by the original 
conception even if the ultimate result be a tale wholly different from that first 
planned. Let additions and alterations be made whenever suggested by anything 
in the for mulating process. 

3) Write out the story - rapidly, fluently, and not too critically - following the 
second or narrative-order synopsis. Change incidents and plot whenever the 
developing process seems to suggest such change, never being bound by any 
previous design. If the development suddenly reveals new opportunities for 
dramatic effect or vivid story telling, add whatever is thought advantageous - 
going back and reconciling the early parts to the new plan. Insert and delete 
whole sections if necessary or desirable, trying different beginnings and endings 
until the best arrangement is found. But be sure that all references throughout 
the story are thoroughly reconciled with the final design. Remove all possible 
superfluities - words, sentences, paragraphs, or whole episodes or elements - 
observing the usual precautions about the reconciling of all references. 

4) Revise the entire text, paying attention to vocabulary, syntax, rhythm of prose, 
proportioning of parts, niceties of tone, grace and convincingness of transitions 
(scene to scene, slow and detailed action to rapid and sketchy time-covering 
action and vice versa... etc., etc., etc.), effectiveness of beginning, ending, 
climaxes, etc., dramatic suspense and interest, plausibility and atmosphere, and 
various other elements. 

5) Prepare a neatly typed copy - not hesitating to add final revisory touches 
where they seem in order. 



The first of these stages is often purely a mental one - a set of conditions and 
happenings being worked out in my head, and never set down until I am ready 
to prepare a detailed synopsis of events in order of narration. Then, too, I 
sometimes begin even the actual writing before I know how I shall develop the 
idea - this beginning forming a problem to be motivated and exploited. 

There are, I think, four distinct types of weird story; one expressing a mood or 
feeling, another expressing a pictorial conception, a third expressing a general 
situation, condition, legend or intellectual conception, and a fourth explaining a 
definite tableau or specific dramatic situation or climax. In another way, weird 
tales may be grouped into two rough categories - those in which the marvel or 
horror concerns some condition or phenomenon, and those in which it concerns 
some action of persons in connexion with a bizarre condition or phenomenon. 

Each weird story - to speak more particularly of the horror type - seems to 
involve five definite elements: (a) some basic, underlying horror or abnormality - 
condition, entity, etc. - , (b) the general effects or bearings of the horror, (c) the 
mode of manifestation - object embodying the horror and phenomena observed - 
, (d) the types of fear-reaction pertaining to the horror, and (e) the specific effects 
of the horror in relation to the given set of conditions. 

In writing a weird story I always try very carefully to achieve the right mood and 
atmosphere, and place the emphasis where it belongs. One cannot, except in 
immature pulp charlatan-fiction, present an account of impossible, improbable, 
or inconceivable phenomena as a commonplace narrative of objective acts and 
conventional emotions. Inconceivable events and conditions have a special 
handicap to over come, and this can be accomplished only through the 
maintenance of a careful realism in every phase of the story except that touching 
on the one given marvel. This marvel must be treated very impressively and 
deliberately - with a careful emotional "build-up" - else it will seem flat and 
unconvincing. Being the principal thing in the story, its mere existence should 
overshadow the characters and events. But the characters and events must be 
consistent and natural except where they touch the single marvel. In relation to 
the central wonder, the characters should shew the same overwhelming emotion 
which similar characters would shew toward such a wonder in real life. Never 
have a wonder taken for granted. Even when the characters are supposed to be 
accustomed to the wonder I try to weave an air of awe and impressiveness 
corresponding to what the reader should feel. A casual style ruins any serious 
fantasy. 

Atmosphere, not action, is the great desideratum of weird fiction. Indeed, all that 
a wonder story can ever be is a vivid picture of a certain type of human mood. 
The moment it tries to be anything else it becomes cheap, puerile, and 



unconvincing. Prime emphasis should be given to subtle suggestion - 
imperceptible hints and touches of selective associative detail which express 
shadings of moods and build up a vague illusion of the strange reality of the 
unreal. Avoid bald catalogues of incredible happenings which can have no 
substance or meaning apart from a sustaining cloud of colour and symbolism. 

These are the rules or standards which I have followed - consciously or 
unconsciously - ever since I first attempted the serious writing of fantasy. That 
my results are successful may well be disputed - but I feel at least sure that, had I 
ignored the considerations mentioned in the last few paragraphs, they would 
have been much worse than they are. 



History of the Necronomicon 

Written 1927 

Published 1938 

Original title Al Azif — azif being the word used by Arabs to designate that 
nocturnal sound (made by insects) suppos'd to be the howling of daemons. 

Composed by Abdul Alhazred, a mad poet of Sanaa, in Yemen, who is said to 
have flourished during the period of the Ommiade caliphs, circa 700 A.D. He 
visited the ruins of Babylon and the subterranean secrets of Memphis and spent 
ten years alone in the great southern desert of Arabia — the Roba el Khaliyeh or 
"Empty Space" of the ancients — and "Dahna" or "Crimson" desert of the 
modern Arabs, which is held to be inhabited by protective evil spirits and 
monsters of death. Of this desert many strange and unbelievable marvels are told 
by those who pretend to have penetrated it. In his last years Alhazred dwelt in 
Damascus, where the Necronomicon (Al Azif) was written, and of his final death 
or disappearance (738 A.D.) many terrible and conflicting things are told. He is 
said by Ebn Khallikan (12th cent, biographer) to have been seized by an invisible 
monster in broad daylight and devoured horribly before a large number of 
fright-frozen witnesses. Of his madness many things are told. He claimed to have 
seen fabulous Irem, or City of Pillars, and to have found beneath the ruins of a 
certain nameless desert town the shocking annals and secrets of a race older than 
mankind. He was only an indifferent Moslem, worshipping unknown entities 
whom he called Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu. 

In A.D. 950 the Azif, which had gained a considerable tho' surreptitious 
circulation amongst the philosophers of the age, was secretly translated into 
Greek by Theodorus Philetas of Constantinople under the title Necronomicon. 
For a century it impelled certain experimenters to terrible attempts, when it was 
suppressed and burnt by the patriarch Michael. After this it is only heard of 
furtively, but (1228) Olaus Wormius made a Latin translation later in the Middle 
Ages, and the Latin text was printed twice — once in the fifteenth century in 
black-letter (evidently in Germany) and once in the seventeenth (prob. Spanish) 
— both editions being without identifying marks, and located as to time and 
place by internal typographical evidence only. The work both Latin and Greek 
was banned by Pope Gregory IX in 1232, shortly after its Latin translation, which 
called attention to it. The Arabic original was lost as early as Wormius' time, as 
indicated by his prefatory note; and no sight of the Greek copy — which was 
printed in Italy between 1500 and 1550 — has been reported since the burning of 
a certain Salem man's library in 1692. An English translation made by Dr. Dee 



was never printed, and exists only in fragments recovered from the original 
manuscript. Of the Latin texts now existing one (15th cent.) is known to be in the 
British Museum under lock and key, while another (17th cent.) is in the 
Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris. A seventeenth-century edition is in the Widener 
Library at Harvard, and in the library of Miskatonic University at Arkham. Also 
in the library of the University of Buenos Ayres. Numerous other copies 
probably exist in secret, and a fifteenth-century one is persistently rumoured to 
form part of the collection of a celebrated American millionaire. A still vaguer 
rumour credits the preservation of a sixteenth-century Greek text in the Salem 
family of Pickman; but if it was so preserved, it vanished with the artist R. U. 
Pickman, who disappeared early in 1926. The book is rigidly suppressed by the 
authorities of most countries, and by all branches of organised ecclesiasticism. 
Reading leads to terrible consequences. It was from rumours of this book (of 
which relatively few of the general public know) that R. W. Chambers is said to 
have derived the idea of his early novel The King in Yellow. 

Chronology 

Al Azif written circa 730 A.D. at Damascus by Abdul Alhazred 

Tr. to Greek 950 A.D. as Necronomicon by Theodorus Philetas 

Burnt by Patriarch Michael 1050 (i.e., Greek text). Arabic text now lost. 

Olaus translates Gr. to Latin 1228 

1232 Latin ed. (and Gr.) suppr. by Pope Gregory IX 

14... Black-letter printed edition (Germany) 

15. . . Gr. text printed in Italy 

16. . . Spanish reprint of Latin text 

This should be supplemented with a letter written to Clark Ashton Smith on 
November 27, 1927: 

I have had no chance to produce new material this autumn, but have been 
classifying notes & synopses in preparation for some monstrous tales later on. In 
particular I have drawn up some data on the celebrated & unmentionable 
Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred! It seems that this shocking 
blasphemy was produced by a native of Sanaa, in Yemen, who flourished about 
700 A.D. & made many mysterious pilgrimages to Babylon's ruins, Memphis's 
catacombs, & the devil-haunted & untrodden wastes of the great southern 
deserts of Arabia — the Roba el Khaliyeh, where he claimed to have found 
records of things older than mankind, & to have learnt the worship of Yog- 
Sothoth & Cthulhu. The book was a product of Abdul's old age, which was spent 
in Damascus, & the original title was Al Azif — azif (cf. Henley's notes to 
Vathek) being the name applied to those strange night noises (of insects) which 
the Arabs attribute to the howling of daemons. Alhazred died — or disappeared 



— under terrible circumstances in the year 738. In 950 Al Azif was translated into 
Greek by the Byzantine Theodorus Philetas under the title Necronomicon, & a 
century later it was burnt at the order of Michael, Patriarch of Constantinople. It 
was translated into Latin by Olaus in 1228, but placed on the Index 
Expurgatorius by Pope Gregory IX in 1232. The original Arabic was lost before 
Olaus' time, & the last known Greek copy perished in Salem in 1692. The work 
was printed in the 15th, 16th, & 17th centuries, but few copies are extant. 
Wherever existing, it is carefully guarded for the sake of the world's welfare & 
sanity. Once a man read through the copy in the library of Miskatonic University 
at Arkham — read it through & fled wild-eyed into the hills. . . but that is another 
story! 

In yet another letter (to James Blish and William Miller, 1936), Lovecraft says: 

You are fortunate in securing copies of the hellish and abhorred Necronomicon. 
Are they the Latin texts printed in Germany in the fifteenth century, or the Greek 
version printed in Italy in 1567, or the Spanish translation of 1623? Or do these 
copies represent different texts? 



At the Mountains of Madness 

Written Feb-22 Mar 1931 

Published February-April 1936 in Astounding Stories, Vol. 16, No. 6 February 
1936), p. 8-32; Vol. 17, No. 1 (March 1936), p. 125-55; Vol. 17, No. 2 (April 1936), p. 
132-50. 

I 

I am forced into speech because men of science have refused to follow my advice 
without knowing why. It is altogether against my will that I tell my reasons for 
opposing this contemplated invasion of the antarctic - with its vast fossil hunt 
and its wholesale boring and melting of the ancient ice caps. And I am the more 
reluctant because my warning may be in vain. 

Doubt of the real facts, as I must reveal them, is inevitable; yet, if I suppressed 
what will seem extravagant and incredible, there would be nothing left. The 
hitherto withheld photographs, both ordinary and aerial, will count in my favor, 
for they are damnably vivid and graphic. Still, they will be doubted because of 
the great lengths to which clever fakery can be carried. The ink drawings, of 
course, will be jeered at as obvious impostures, notwithstanding a strangeness of 
technique which art experts ought to remark and puzzle over. 

In the end I must rely on the judgment and standing of the few scientific leaders 
who have, on the one hand, sufficient independence of thought to weigh my data 
on its own hideously convincing merits or in the light of certain primordial and 
highly baffling myth cycles; and on the other hand, sufficient influence to deter 
the exploring world in general from any rash and over-ambitious program in the 
region of those mountains of madness. It is an unfortunate fact that relatively 
obscure men like myself and my associates, connected only with a small 
university, have little chance of making an impression where matters of a wildly 
bizarre or highly controversial nature are concerned. 

It is further against us that we are not, in the strictest sense, specialists in the 
fields which came primarily to be concerned. As a geologist, my object in leading 
the Miskatonic University Expedition was wholly that of securing deep-level 
specimens of rock and soil from various parts of the antarctic continent, aided by 
the remarkable drill devised by Professor Frank H. Pabodie of our engineering 
department. I had no wish to be a pioneer in any other field than this, but I did 
hope that the use of this new mechanical appliance at different points along 



previously explored paths would bring to light materials of a sort hitherto 
unreached by the ordinary methods of collection. 

Pabodie's drilling apparatus, as the public already knows from our reports, was 
unique and radical in its lightness, portability, and capacity to combine the 
ordinary artesian drill principle with the principle of the small circular rock drill 
in such a way as to cope quickly with strata of varying hardness. Steel head, 
jointed rods, gasoline motor, collapsible wooden derrick, dynamiting 
paraphernalia, cording, rubbish- removal auger, and sectional piping for bores 
five inches wide and up to one thousand feet deep all formed, with needed 
accessories, no greater load than three seven-dog sledges could carry. This was 
made possible by the clever aluminum alloy of which most of the metal objects 
were fashioned. Four large Dornier aeroplanes, designed especially for the 
tremendous altitude flying necessary on the antarctic plateau and with added 
fuel-warming and quick-starting devices worked out by Pabodie, could transport 
our entire expedition from a base at the edge of the great ice barrier to various 
suitable inland points, and from these points a sufficient quota of dogs would 
serve us. 

We planned to cover as great an area as one antarctic season - or longer, if 
absolutely necessary - would permit, operating mostly in the mountain ranges 
and on the plateau south of Ross Sea; regions explored in varying degree by 
Shackleton, Amundsen, Scott, and Byrd. With frequent changes of camp, made 
by aeroplane and involving distances great enough to be of geological 
significance, we expected to unearth a quite unprecedented amount of material - 
especially in the pre-Cambrian strata of which so narrow a range of antarctic 
specimens had previously been secured. We wished also to obtain as great as 
possible a variety of the upper fossiliferous rocks, since the primal life history of 
this bleak realm of ice and death is of the highest importance to our knowledge 
of the earth's past. That the antarctic continent was once temperate and even 
tropical, with a teeming vegetable and animal life of which the lichens, marine 
fauna, arachnida, and penguins of the northern edge are the only survivals, is a 
matter of common information; and we hoped to expand that information in 
variety, accuracy, and detail. When a simple boring revealed fossiliferous signs, 
we would enlarge the aperture by blasting, in order to get specimens of suitable 
size and condition. 

Our borings, of varying depth according to the promise held out by the upper 
soil or rock, were to be confined to exposed, or nearly exposed, land surfaces - 
these inevitably being slopes and ridges because of the mile or two-mile 
thickness of solid ice overlying the lower levels. We could not afford to waste 
drilling the depth of any considerable amount of mere glaciation, though 
Pabodie had worked out a plan for sinking copper electrodes in thick clusters of 



borings and melting off limited areas of ice with current from a gasoline-driven 
dynamo. It is this plan - which we could not put into effect except experimentally 
on an expedition such as ours - that the coming Starkweather-Moore Expedition 
proposes to follow, despite the warnings I have issued since our return from the 
antarctic. 

The public knows of the Miskatonic Expedition through our frequent wireless 
reports to the Arkham Advertiser and Associated Press, and through the later 
articles of Pabodie and myself. We consisted of four men from the University - 
Pabodie, Lake of the biology department, Atwood of the physics department - 
also a meteorologist - and myself, representing geology and having nominal 
command - besides sixteen assistants: seven graduate students from Miskatonic 
and nine skilled mechanics. Of these sixteen, twelve were qualified aeroplane 
pilots, all but two of whom were competent wireless operators. Eight of them 
understood navigation with compass and sextant, as did Pabodie, Atwood, and 
I. In addition, of course, our two ships - wooden ex-whalers, reinforced for ice 
conditions and having auxiliary steam - were fully manned. 

The Nathaniel Derby Pickman Foundation, aided by a few special contributions, 
financed the expedition; hence our preparations were extremely thorough, 
despite the absence of great publicity. The dogs, sledges, machines, camp 
materials, and unassembled parts of our five planes were delivered in Boston, 
and there our ships were loaded. We were marvelously well-equipped for our 
specific purposes, and in all matters pertaining to supplies, regimen, 
transportation, and camp construction we profited by the excellent example of 
our many recent and exceptionally brilliant predecessors. It was the unusual 
number and fame of these predecessors which made our own expedition - ample 
though it was - so little noticed by the world at large. 

As the newspapers told, we sailed from Boston Harbor on September 2nd, 1930, 
taking a leisurely course down the coast and through the Panama Canal, and 
stopping at Samoa and Hobart, Tasmania, at which latter place we took on final 
supplies. None of our exploring party had ever been in the polar regions before, 
hence we all relied greatly on our ship captains - J. B. Douglas, commanding the 
brig Arkham, and serving as commander of the sea party, and Georg 
Thorfinnssen, commanding the barque Miskatonic - both veteran whalers in 
antarctic waters. 

As we left the inhabited world behind, the sun sank lower and lower in the 
north, and stayed longer and longer above the horizon each day. At about 62° 
South Latitude we sighted our first icebergs - table-like objects with vertical sides 
- and just before reaching the antarctic circle, which we crossed on October 20th 
with appropriately quaint ceremonies, we were considerably troubled with field 



10 



ice. The falling temperature bothered me considerably after our long voyage 
through the tropics, but I tried to brace up for the worse rigors to come. On many 
occasions the curious atmospheric effects enchanted me vastly; these including a 
strikingly vivid mirage - the first I had ever seen - in which distant bergs became 
the battlements of unimaginable cosmic castles. 

Pushing through the ice, which was fortunately neither extensive nor thickly 
packed, we regained open water at South Latitude 67°, East Longitude 175° On 
the morning of October 26th a strong land blink appeared on the south, and 
before noon we all felt a thrill of excitement at beholding a vast, lofty, and snow- 
clad mountain chain which opened out and covered the whole vista ahead. At 
last we had encountered an outpost of the great unknown continent and its 
cryptic world of frozen death. These peaks were obviously the Admiralty Range 
discovered by Ross, and it would now be our task to round Cape Adare and sail 
down the east coast of Victoria Land to our contemplated base on the shore of 
McMurdo Sound, at the foot of the volcano Erebus in South Latitude 77° 9'. 

The last lap of the voyage was vivid and fancy-stirring. Great barren peaks of 
mystery loomed up constantly against the west as the low northern sun of noon 
or the still lower horizon-grazing southern sun of midnight poured its hazy 
reddish rays over the white snow, bluish ice and water lanes, and black bits of 
exposed granite slope. Through the desolate summits swept ranging, 
intermittent gusts of the terrible antarctic wind; whose cadences sometimes held 
vague suggestions of a wild and half-sentient musical piping, with notes 
extending over a wide range, and which for some subconscious mnemonic 
reason seemed to me disquieting and even dimly terrible. Something about the 
scene reminded me of the strange and disturbing Asian paintings of Nicholas 
Roerich, and of the still stranger and more disturbing descriptions of the evilly 
fabled plateau of Leng which occur in the dreaded Necronomicon of the mad 
Arab Abdul Alhazred. I was rather sorry, later on, that I had ever looked into 
that monstrous book at the college library. 

On the 7th of November, sight of the westward range having been temporarily 
lost, we passed Franklin Island; and the next day descried the cones of Mts. 
Erebus and Terror on Ross Island ahead, with the long line of the Parry 
Mountains beyond. There now stretched off to the east the low, white line of the 
great ice barrier, rising perpendicularly to a height of two hundred feet like the 
rocky cliffs of Quebec, and marking the end of southward navigation. In the 
afternoon we entered McMurdo Sound and stood off the coast in the lee of 
smoking Mt. Erebus. The scoriae peak towered up some twelve thousand, seven 
hundred feet against the eastern sky, like a Japanese print of the sacred Fujiyama, 
while beyond it rose the white, ghostlike height of Mt. Terror, ten thousand, nine 
hundred feet in altitude, and now extinct as a volcano. 



11 



that 


restlessly roll 


currents 


down Yaanek 


cHmes 


of the pole 


roll 


down Mount Yaanek 



Puffs of smoke from Erebus came intermittently, and one of the graduate 
assistants - a brilliant young fellow named Danforth - pointed out what looked 
like lava on the snowy slope, remarking that this mountain, discovered in 1840, 
had undoubtedly been the source of Poe's image when he wrote seven years 
later: 

the lavas 

Their sulphurous 

In the ultimate 

That groan as they 

In the realms of the boreal pole. 

Danforth was a great reader of bizarre material, and had talked a good deal of 
Poe. I was interested myself because of the antarctic scene of Poe's only long 
story - the disturbing and enigmatical Arthur Gordon Pym. On the barren shore, 
and on the lofty ice barrier in the background, myriads of grotesque penguins 
squawked and flapped their fins, while many fat seals were visible on the water, 
swimming or sprawling across large cakes of slowly drifting ice. 

Using small boats, we effected a difficult landing on Ross Island shortly after 
midnight on the morning of the 9th, carrying a line of cable from each of the 
ships and preparing to unload supplies by means of a breeches-buoy 
arrangement. Our sensations on first treading Antarctic soil were poignant and 
complex, even though at this particular point the Scott and Shackleton 
expeditions had preceded us. Our camp on the frozen shore below the volcano's 
slope was only a provisional one, headquarters being kept aboard the Arkham. 
We landed all our drilling apparatus, dogs, sledges, tents, provisions, gasoline 
tanks, experimental ice-melting outfit, cameras, both ordinary and aerial, 
aeroplane parts, and other accessories, including three small portable wireless 
outfits - besides those in the planes - capable of communicating with the 
Arkham's large outfit from any part of the antarctic continent that we would be 
likely to visit. The ship's outfit, communicating with the outside world, was to 
convey press reports to the Arkham Advertiser's powerful wireless station on 
Kingsport Head, Massachusetts. We hoped to complete our work during a single 
antarctic summer; but if this proved impossible, we would winter on the 
Arkham, sending the Miskatonic north before the freezing of the ice for another 
summer's supplies. 

I need not repeat what the newspapers have already published about our early 
work: of our ascent of Mt. Erebus; our successful mineral borings at several 
points on Ross Island and the singular speed with which Pabodie's apparatus 
accomplished them, even through solid rock layers; our provisional test of the 
small ice-melting equipment; our perilous ascent of the great barrier with sledges 



12 



and supplies; and our final assembling of five huge aeroplanes at the camp atop 
the barrier. The health of our land party - twenty men and fifty-five Alaskan 
sledge dogs - was remarkable, though of course we had so far encountered no 
really destructive temperatures or windstorms. For the most part, the 
thermometer varied between zero and 20° or 25° above, and our experience with 
New England winters had accustomed us to rigors of this sort. The barrier camp 
was semi-permanent, and destined to be a storage cache for gasoline, provisions, 
dynamite, and other supplies. 

Only four of our planes were needed to carry the actual exploring material, the 
fifth being left with a pilot and two men from the ships at the storage cache to 
form a means of reaching us from the Arkham in case all our exploring planes 
were lost. Later, when not using all the other planes for moving apparatus, we 
would employ one or two in a shuttle transportation service between this cache 
and another permanent base on the great plateau from six hundred to seven 
hundred miles southward, beyond Beardmore Glacier. Despite the almost 
unanimous accounts of appalling winds and tempests that pour down from the 
plateau, we determined to dispense with intermediate bases, taking our chances 
in the interest of economy and probable efficiency. 

Wireless reports have spoken of the breathtaking, four-hour, nonstop flight of 
our squadron on November 21st over the lofty shelf ice, with vast peaks rising on 
the west, and the unfathomed silences echoing to the sound of our engines. Wind 
troubled us only moderately, and our radio compasses helped us through the 
one opaque fog we encountered. When the vast rise loomed ahead, between 
Latitudes 83° and 84°, we knew we had reached Beardmore Glacier, the largest 
valley glacier in the world, and that the frozen sea was now giving place to a 
frowning and mountainous coast line. At last we were truly entering the white, 
aeon-dead world of the ultimate south. Even as we realized it we saw the peak of 
Mt. Nansen in the eastern distance, towering up to its height of almost fifteen 
thousand feet. 

The successful establishment of the southern base above the glacier in Latitude 
86° 7', East Longitude 174° 23', and the phenomenally rapid and effective borings 
and blastings made at various points reached by our sledge trips and short 
aeroplane flights, are matters of history; as is the arduous and triumphant ascent 
of Mt. Nansen by Pabodie and two of the graduate students - Gedney and 
Carroll - on December 13 - 15. We were some eight thousand, five hundred feet 
above sea-level, and when experimental drillings revealed solid ground only 
twelve feet down through the snow and ice at certain points, we made 
considerable use of the small melting apparatus and sunk bores and performed 
dynamiting at many places where no previous explorer had ever thought of 
securing mineral specimens. The pre-Cambrian granites and beacon sandstones 



13 



thus obtained confirmed our belief that this plateau was homogeneous, with the 
great bulk of the continent to the west, but somewhat different from the parts 
lying eastward below South America - which we then thought to form a separate 
and smaller continent divided from the larger one by a frozen junction of Ross 
and Weddell Seas, though Byrd has since disproved the hypothesis. 

In certain of the sandstones, dynamited and chiseled after boring revealed their 
nature, we found some highly interesting fossil markings and fragments; notably 
ferns, seaweeds, trilobites, crinoids, and such moUusks as linguellae and 
gastropods - all of which seemed of real significance in connection with the 
region's primordial history. There was also a queer triangular, striated marking, 
about a foot in greatest diameter, which Lake pieced together from three 
fragments of slate brought up from a deep-blasted aperture. These fragments 
came from a point to the westward, near the Queen Alexandra Range; and Lake, 
as a biologist, seemed to find their curious marking unusually puzzling and 
provocative, though to my geological eye it looked not unlike some of the ripple 
effects reasonably common in the sedimentary rocks. Since slate is no more than 
a metamorphic formation into which a sedimentary stratum is pressed, and since 
the pressure itself produces odd distorting effects on any markings which may 
exist, I saw no reason for extreme wonder over the striated depression. 

On January 6th, 1931, Lake, Pabodie, Danforth, the other six students, and myself 
flew directly over the south pole in two of the great planes, being forced down 
once by a sudden high wind, which, fortunately, did not develop into a typical 
storm. This was, as the papers have stated, one of several observation flights, 
during others of which we tried to discern new topographical features in areas 
unreached by previous explorers. Our early flights were disappointing in this 
latter respect, though they afforded us some magnificent examples of the richly 
fantastic and deceptive mirages of the polar regions, of which our sea voyage 
had given us some brief foretastes. Distant mountains floated in the sky as 
enchanted cities, and often the whole white world would dissolve into a gold, 
silver, and scarlet land of Dunsanian dreams and adventurous expectancy under 
the magic of the low midnight sun. On cloudy days we had considerable trouble 
in flying owing to the tendency of snowy earth and sky to merge into one 
mystical opalescent void with no visible horizon to mark the junction of the two. 

At length we resolved to carry out our original plan of flying five hundred miles 
eastward with all four exploring planes and establishing a fresh sub-base at a 
point which would probably be on the smaller continental division, as we 
mistakenly conceived it. Geological specimens obtained there would be desirable 
for purposes of comparison. Our health so far had remained excellent - lime juice 
well offsetting the steady diet of tinned and salted food, and temperatures 
generally above zero enabling us to do without our thickest furs. It was now 



14 



midsummer, and with haste and care we might be able to conclude work by 
March and avoid a tedious wintering through the long antarctic night. Several 
savage windstorms had burst upon us from the west, but we had escaped 
damage through the skill of Atwood in devising rudimentary aeroplane shelters 
and windbreaks of heavy snow blocks, and reinforcing the principal camp 
buildings with snow. Our good luck and efficiency had indeed been almost 
uncanny. 

The outside world knew, of course, of our program, and was told also of Lake's 
strange and dogged insistence on a westward - or rather, northwestward - 
prospecting trip before our radical shift to the new base. It seems that he had 
pondered a great deal, and with alarmingly radical daring, over that triangular 
striated marking in the slate; reading into it certain contradictions in nature and 
geological period which whetted his curiosity to the utmost, and made him avid 
to sink more borings and blastings in the west- stretching formation to which the 
exhumed fragments evidently belonged. He was strangely convinced that the 
marking was the print of some bulky, unknown, and radically unclassifiable 
organism of considerably advanced evolution, notwithstanding that the rock 
which bore it was of so vastly ancient a date - Cambrian if not actually pre- 
Cambrian - as to preclude the probable existence not only of all highly evolved 
life, but of any life at all above the unicellular or at most the trilobite stage. These 
fragments, with their odd marking, must have been five hundred million to a 
thousand million years old. 

II 

Popular imagination, I judge, responded actively to our wireless bulletins of 
Lake's start northwestward into regions never trodden by human foot or 
penetrated by human imagination, though we did not mention his wild hopes of 
revolutionizing the entire sciences of biology and geology. His preliminary 
sledging and boring journey of January 11th to 18th with Pabodie and five others 
- marred by the loss of two dogs in an upset when crossing one of the great 
pressure ridges in the ice - had brought up more and more of the Archaean slate; 
and even I was interested by the singular profusion of evident fossil markings in 
that unbelievably ancient stratum. These markings, however, were of very 
primitive life forms involving no great paradox except that any life forms should 
occur in rock as definitely pre-Cambrian as this seemed to be; hence I still failed 
to see the good sense of Lake's demand for an interlude in our time- saving 
program - an interlude requiring the use of all four planes, many men, and the 
whole of the expedition's mechanical apparatus. I did not, in the end, veto the 
plan, though I decided not to accompany the northwestward party despite 
Lake's plea for my geological advice. While they were gone, I would remain at 
the base with Pabodie and five men and work out final plans for the eastward 



15 



shift. In preparation for this transfer, one of the planes had begun to move up a 
good gasohne supply from McMurdo Sound; but this could wait temporarily. I 
kept with me one sledge and nine dogs, since it is unwise to be at any time 
without possible transportation in an utterly tenantless world of aeon-long 
death. 

Lake's sub-expedition into the unknown, as everyone will recall, sent out its own 
reports from the shortwave transmitters on the planes; these being 
simultaneously picked up by our apparatus at the southern base and by the 
Arkham at McMurdo Sound, whence they were relayed to the outside world on 
wave lengths up to fifty meters. The start was made January 22nd at 4 A.M., and 
the first wireless message we received came only two hours later, when Lake 
spoke of descending and starting a small- scale ice-melting and bore at a point 
some three hundred miles away from us. Six hours after that a second and very 
excited message told of the frantic, beaver-like work whereby a shallow shaft 
had been sunk and blasted, culminating in the discovery of slate fragments with 
several markings approximately like the one which had caused the original 
puzzlement. 

Three hours later a brief bulletin announced the resumption of the flight in the 
teeth of a raw and piercing gale; and when I dispatched a message of protest 
against further hazards. Lake replied curtly that his new specimens made any 
hazard worth taking. I saw that his excitement had reached the point of mutiny, 
and that I could do nothing to check this headlong risk of the whole expedition's 
success; but it was appalling to think of his plunging deeper and deeper into that 
treacherous and sinister white immensity of tempests and unfathomed mysteries 
which stretched off for some fifteen hundred miles to the half-known, half- 
suspected coast line of Queen Mary and Knox Lands. 

Then, in about an hour and a half more, came that doubly excited message from 
Lake's moving plane, which almost reversed my sentiments and made me wish I 
had accompanied the party: 

"10:05 P.M. On the wing. After snowstorm, have spied mountain range ahead 
higher than any hitherto seen. May equal Himalayas, allowing for height of 
plateau. Probable Latitude 76° 15', Longitude 113° 10' E. Reaches far as can see to 
right and left. Suspicion of two smoking cones. All peaks black and bare of snow. 
Gale blowing off them impedes navigation." 

After that Pabodie, the men and I hung breathlessly over the receiver. Thought of 
this titanic mountain rampart seven hundred miles away inflamed our deepest 
sense of adventure; and we rejoiced that our expedition, if not ourselves 
personally, had been its discoverers. In half an hour Lake called us again: 



16 



"Moulton's plane forced down on plateau in foothills, but nobody hurt and 
perhaps can repair. Shall transfer essentials to other three for return or further 
moves if necessary, but no more heavy plane travel needed just now. Mountains 
surpass anything in imagination. Am going up scouting in Carroll's plane, with 
all weight out. 

"You can't imagine anything like this. Highest peaks must go over thirty-five 
thousand feet. Everest out of the running. Atwood to work out height with 
theodolite while Carroll and I go up. Probably wrong about cones, for formations 
look stratified. Possibly pre-Cambrian slate with other strata mixed in. Queer 
skyline effects - regular sections of cubes clinging to highest peaks. Whole thing 
marvelous in red-gold light of low sun. Like land of mystery in a dream or 
gateway to forbidden world of untrodden wonder. Wish you were here to 
study." 

Though it was technically sleeping time, not one of us listeners thought for a 
moment of retiring. It must have been a good deal the same at McMurdo Sound, 
where the supply cache and the Arkham were also getting the messages; for 
Captain Douglas gave out a call congratulating everybody on the important find, 
and Sherman, the cache operator, seconded his sentiments. We were sorry, of 
course, about the damaged aeroplane, but hoped it could be easily mended. 
Then, at 11 P.M., came another call from Lake: 

"Up with Carroll over highest foothills. Don't dare try really tall peaks in present 
weather, but shall later. Frightful work climbing, and hard going at this altitude, 
but worth it. Great range fairly solid, hence can't get any glimpses beyond. Main 
summits exceed Himalayas, and very queer. Range looks like pre-Cambrian 
slate, with plain signs of many other upheaved strata. Was wrong about 
volcanism. Goes farther in either direction than we can see. Swept clear of snow 
above about twenty-one thousand feet. 

"Odd formations on slopes of highest mountains. Great low square blocks with 
exactly vertical sides, and rectangular lines of low, vertical ramparts, like the old 
Asian castles clinging to steep mountains in Roerich's paintings. Impressive from 
distance. Flew close to some, and Carroll thought they were formed of smaller 
separate pieces, but that is probably weathering. Most edges crumbled and 
rounded off as if exposed to storms and climate changes for millions of years. 
"Parts, especially upper parts, seem to be of lighter-colored rock than any visible 
strata on slopes proper, hence of evidently crystalline origin. Close flying shows 
many cave mouths, some unusually regular in outline, square or semicircular. 
You must come and investigate. Think I saw rampart squarely on top of one 
peak. Height seems about thirty thousand to thirty-five thousand feet. Am up 
twenty-one thousand, five hundred myself, in devilish, gnawing cold. Wind 



17 



whistles and pipes through passes and in and out of caves, but no flying danger 
so far." 

From then on for another half hour Lake kept up a running fire of comment, and 
expressed his intention of climbing some of the peaks on foot. I replied that I 
would join him as soon as he could send a plane, and that Pabodie and I would 
work out the best gasoline plan - just where and how to concentrate our supply 
in view of the expedition's altered character. Obviously, Lake's boring 
operations, as well as his aeroplane activities, would require a great deal for the 
new base which he planned to establish at the foot of the mountains; and it was 
possible that the eastward flight might not be made, after all, this season. In 
connection with this business I called Captain Douglas and asked him to get as 
much as possible out of the ships and up the barrier with the single dog team we 
had left there. A direct route across the unknown region between Lake and 
McMurdo Sound was what we really ought to establish. 

Lake called me later to say that he had decided to let the camp stay where 
Moulton's plane had been forced down, and where repairs had already 
progressed somewhat. The ice sheet was very thin, with dark ground here and 
there visible, and he would sink some borings and blasts at that very point before 
making any sledge trips or climbing expeditions. He spoke of the ineffable 
majesty of the whole scene, and the queer state of his sensations at being in the 
lee of vast, silent pinnacles whose ranks shot up like a wall reaching the sky at 
the world's rim. Atwood's theodolite observations had placed the height of the 
five tallest peaks at from thirty thousand to thirty-four thousand feet. The 
windswept nature of the terrain clearly disturbed Lake, for it argued the 
occasional existence of prodigious gales, violent beyond anything we had so far 
encountered. His camp lay a little more than five miles from where the higher 
foothills rose abruptly. I could almost trace a note of subconscious alarm in his 
words-flashed across a glacial void of seven hundred miles - as he urged that we 
all hasten with the matter and get the strange, new region disposed of as soon as 
possible. He was about to rest now, after a continuous day's work of almost 
unparalleled speed, strenuousness, and results. 

In the morning I had a three-cornered wireless talk with Lake and Captain 
Douglas at their widely separated bases. It was agreed that one of Lake's planes 
would come to my base for Pabodie, the five men, and myself, as well as for all 
the fuel it could carry. The rest of the fuel question, depending on our decision 
about an easterly trip, could wait for a few days, since Lake had enough for 
immediate camp heat and borings. Eventually the old southern base ought to be 
restocked, but if we postponed the easterly trip we would not use it till the next 
summer, and, meanwhile. Lake must send a plane to explore a direct route 
between his new mountains and McMurdo Sound. 



18 



Pabodie and I prepared to close our base for a short or long period, as the case 
might be. If we wintered in the antarctic we would probably fly straight from 
Lake's base to the Arkham without returning to this spot. Some of our conical 
tents had already been reinforced by blocks of hard snow, and now we decided 
to complete the job of making a permanent village. Owing to a very liberal tent 
supply. Lake had with him all that his base would need, even after our arrival. I 
wirelessed that Pabodie and I would be ready for the northwestward move after 
one day's work and one night's rest. 

Our labors, however, were not very steady after 4 P.M., for about that time Lake 
began sending in the most extraordinary and excited messages. His working day 
had started unpropitiously, since an aeroplane survey of the nearly-exposed rock 
surfaces showed an entire absence of those Archaean and primordial strata for 
which he was looking, and which formed so great a part of the colossal peaks 
that loomed up at a tantalizing distance from the camp. Most of the rocks 
glimpsed were apparently Jurassic and Comanchian sandstones and Permian 
and Triassic schists, with now and then a glossy black outcropping suggesting a 
hard and slaty coal. This rather discouraged Lake, whose plans all hinged on 
unearthing specimens more than five hundred million years older. It was clear to 
him that in order to recover the Archaean slate vein in which he had found the 
odd markings, he would have to make a long sledge trip from these foothills to 
the steep slopes of the gigantic mountains themselves. 

He had resolved, nevertheless, to do some local boring as part of the expedition's 
general program; hence he set up the drill and put five men to work with it while 
the rest finished settling the camp and repairing the damaged aeroplane. The 
softest visible rock - a sandstone about a quarter of a mile from the camp - had 
been chosen for the first sampling; and the drill made excellent progress without 
much supplementary blasting. It was about three hours afterward, following the 
first really heavy blast of the operation, that the shouting of the drill crew was 
heard; and that young Gedney - the acting foreman - rushed into the camp with 
the startling news. 

They had struck a cave. Early in the boring the sandstone had given place to a 
vein of Comanchian limestone, full of minute fossil cephalopods, corals, echini, 
and spirifera, and with occasional suggestions of siliceous sponges and marine 
vertebrate bones - the latter probably of teleosts, sharks, and ganoids. This, in 
itself, was important enough, as affording the first vertebrate fossils the 
expedition had yet secured; but when shortly afterward the drill head dropped 
through the stratum into apparent vacancy, a wholly new and doubly intense 
wave of excitement spread among the excavators. A good-sized blast had laid 
open the subterrene secret; and now, through a jagged aperture perhaps five feet 
across and three feet thick, there yawned before the avid searchers a section of 



19 



shallow limestone hollowing worn more than fifty million years ago by the 
trickling ground waters of a bygone tropic world. 

The hollowed layer was not more than seven or eight feet deep but extended off 
indefinitely in all directions and had a fresh, slightly moving air which suggested 
its membership in an extensive subterranean system. Its roof and floor were 
abundantly equipped with large stalactites and stalagmites, some of which met 
in columnar form: but important above all else was the vast deposit of shells and 
bones, which in places nearly choked the passage. Washed down from unknown 
jungles of Mesozoic tree ferns and fungi, and forests of Tertiary cycads, fan 
palms, and primitive angiosperms, this osseous medley contained 
representatives of more Cretaceous, Eocene, and other animal species than the 
greatest paleontologist could have counted or classified in a year. Mollusks, 
crustacean armor, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and early mammals - great 
and small, known and unknown. No wonder Gedney ran back to the camp 
shouting, and no wonder everyone else dropped work and rushed headlong 
through the biting cold to where the tall derrick marked a new-found gateway to 
secrets of inner earth and vanished aeons. 

When Lake had satisfied the first keen edge of his curiosity, he scribbled a 
message in his notebook and had young Moulton run back to the camp to 
dispatch it by wireless. This was my first word of the discovery, and it told of the 
identification of early shells, bones of ganoids and placoderms, remnants of 
labyrinthodonts and thecodonts, great mosasaur skull fragments, dinosaur 
vertebrae and armor plates, pterodactyl teeth and wing bones, Archaeopteryx 
debris, Miocene sharks' teeth, primitive bird skulls, and other bones of archaic 
mammals such as palaeotheres, Xiphodons, Eohippi, Oreodons, and titanotheres. 
There was nothing as recent as a mastodon, elephant, true camel, deer, or bovine 
animal; hence Lake concluded that the last deposits had occurred during the 
Oligocene Age, and that the hollowed stratum had lain in its present dried, dead, 
and inaccessible state for at least thirty million years. 

On the other hand, the prevalence of very early life forms was singular in the 
highest degree. Though the limestone formation was, on the evidence of such 
typical imbedded fossils as ventriculites, positively and unmistakably 
Comanchian and not a particle earlier, the free fragments in the hollow space 
included a surprising proportion from organisms hitherto considered as peculiar 
to far older periods - even rudimentary fishes, mollusks, and corals as remote as 
the Silunan or Ordovician. The inevitable inference was that in this part of the 
world there had been a remarkable and unique degree of continuity between the 
life of over three hundred million years ago and that of only thirty million years 
ago. How far this continuity had extended beyond the Oligocene Age when the 
cavern was closed was of course past all speculation. In any event, the coming of 



20 



the frightful ice in the Pleistocene some five hundred thousand years ago - a 
mere yesterday as compared with the age of this cavity - must have put an end to 
any of the primal forms which had locally managed to outlive their common 
terms. 

Lake was not content to let his first message stand, but had another bulletin 
written and dispatched across the snow to the camp before Moulton could get 
back. After that Moulton stayed at the wireless in one of the planes, transmitting 
to me - and to the Arkham for relaying to the outside world - the frequent 
postscripts which Lake sent him by a succession of messengers. Those who 
followed the newspapers will remember the excitement created among men of 
science by that afternoon's reports - reports which have finally led, after all these 
years, to the organization of that very Starkweather-Moore Expedition which I 
am so anxious to dissuade from its purposes. I had better give the messages 
literally as Lake sent them, and as our base operator McTighe translated them 
from the pencil shorthand: 

"Fowler makes discovery of highest importance in sandstone and limestone 
fragments from blasts. Several distinct triangular striated prints like those in 
Archaean slate, proving that source survived from over six hundred million 
years ago to Comanchian times without more than moderate morphological 
changes and decrease in average size. Comanchian prints apparently more 
primitive or decadent, if anything, than older ones. Emphasize importance of 
discovery in press. Will mean to biology what Einstein has meant to mathematics 
and physics. Joins up with my previous work and amplifies conclusions. 

"Appears to indicate, as I suspected, that earth has seen whole cycle or cycles of 
organic life before known one that begins with Archaeozoic cells. Was evolved 
and specialized not later than a thousand million years ago, when planet was 
young and recently uninhabitable for any life forms or normal protoplasmic 
structure. Question arises when, where, and how development took place." 

"Later. Examining certain skeletal fragments of large land and marine saurians 
and primitive mammals, find singular local wounds or injuries to bony structure 
not attributable to any known predatory or carnivorous animal of any period, of 
two sorts - straight, penetrant bores, and apparently hacking incisions. One or 
two cases of cleanly severed bones. Not many specimens affected. Am sending to 
camp for electric torches. Will extend search area underground by hacking away 
stalactites." 

"Still later. Have found peculiar soapstone fragment about six inches across and 
an inch and a half thick, wholly unlike any visible local formation - greenish, but 
no evidences to place its period. Has curious smoothness and regularity. Shaped 



21 



like five-pointed star with tips broken off, and signs of other cleavage at inward 
angles and in center of surface. Small, smooth depression in center of unbroken 
surface. Arouses much curiosity as to source and weathering. Probably some 
freak of water action. Carroll, with magnifier, thinks he can make out additional 
markings of geologic significance. Groups of tiny dots in regular patterns. Dogs 
growing uneasy as we work, and seem to hate this soapstone. Must see if it has 
any peculiar odor. Will report again when Mills gets back with light and we start 
on underground area." 

"10:15 P.M. Important discovery. Orrendorf and Watkins, working underground 
at 9:45 with light, found monstrous barrel-shaped fossil of wholly unknown 
nature; probably vegetable unless overgrown specimen of unknown marine 
radiata. Tissue evidently preserved by mineral salts. Tough as leather, but 
astonishing flexibility retained in places. Marks of broken-off parts at ends and 
around sides. Six feet end to end, three and five- tenths feet central diameter, 
tapering to one foot at each end. Like a barrel with five bulging ridges in place of 
staves. Lateral breakages, as of thinnish stalks, are at equator in middle of these 
ridges. In furrows between ridges are curious growths - combs or wings that fold 
up and spread out like fans. All greatly damaged but one, which gives almost 
seven-foot wing spread. Arrangement reminds one of certain monsters of primal 
myth, especially fabled Elder Things in Necronomicon. 

"Their wings seem to be membranous, stretched on frame work of glandular 
tubing. Apparent minute orifices in frame tubing at wing tips. Ends of body 
shriveled, giving no clue to interior or to what has been broken off there. Must 
dissect when we get back to camp. Can't decide whether vegetable or animal. 
Many features obviously of almost incredible primitiveness. Have set all hands 
cutting stalactites and looking for further specimens. Additional scarred bones 
found, but these must wait. Having trouble with dogs. They can't endure the 
new specimen, and would probably tear it to pieces if we didn't keep it at a 
distance from them." 

"11:30 P.M. Attention, Dyer, Pabodie, Douglas. Matter of highest - I might say 
transcendent - importance. Arkham must relay to Kingsport Head Station at 
once. Strange barrel growth is the Archaean thing that left prints in rocks. Mills, 
Boudreau, and Fowler discover cluster of thirteen more at underground point 
forty feet from aperture. Mixed with curiously rounded and configured 
soapstone fragments smaller than one previously found - star-shaped, but no 
marks of breakage except at some of the points. 

"Of organic specimens, eight apparently perfect, with all appendages. Have 
brought all to surface, leading off dogs to distance. They cannot stand the things. 



22 



Give close attention to description and repeat back for accuracy Papers must get 
this right. 

"Objects are eight feet long all over. Six-foot, five-ridged barrel torso three and 
five-tenths feet central diameter, one foot end diameters. Dark gray, flexible, and 
infinitely tough. Seven-foot membranous wings of same color, found folded, 
spread out of furrows between ridges. Wing framework tubular or glandular, of 
lighter gray, with orifices at wing tips. Spread wings have serrated edge. Around 
equator, one at central apex of each of the five vertical, stave-like ridges are five 
systems of light gray flexible arms or tentacles found tightly folded to torso but 
expansible to maximum length of over three feet. Like arms of primitive crinoid. 
Single stalks three inches diameter branch after six inches into five substalks, 
each of which branches after eight inches into small, tapering tentacles or 
tendrils, giving each stalk a total of twenty-five tentacles. 

"At top of torso blunt, bulbous neck of lighter gray, with gill-like suggestions, 
holds yellowish five-pointed starfish-shaped apparent head covered with three- 
inch wiry cilia of various prismatic colors. 

"Head thick and puffy, about two feet point to point, with three-inch flexible 
yellowish tubes projecting from each point. Slit in exact center of top probably 
breathing aperture. At end of each tube is spherical expansion where yellowish 
membrane rolls back on handling to reveal glassy, red-irised globe, evidently an 
eye. 

"Five slightly longer reddish tubes start from inner angles of starfish-shaped 
head and end in saclike swellings of same color which, upon pressure, open to 
bell-shaped orifices two inches maximum diameter and lined with sharp, white 
tooth like projections - probably mouths. All these tubes, cilia, and points of 
starfish head, found folded tightly down; tubes and points clinging to bulbous 
neck and torso. Flexibility surprising despite vast toughness. 

"At bottom of torso, rough but dissimilarly functioning counterparts of head 
arrangements exist. Bulbous light-gray pseudo-neck, without gill suggestions, 
holds greenish five-pointed starfish arrangement. 

"Tough, muscular arms four feet long and tapering from seven inches diameter 
at base to about two and five-tenths at point. To each point is attached small end 
of a greenish five- veined membranous triangle eight inches long and six wide at 
farther end. This is the paddle, fin, or pseudofoot which has made prints in rocks 
from a thousand million to fifty or sixty million years old. 



23 



"From inner angles of starfish arrangement project two-foot reddish tubes 
tapering from three inches diameter at base to one at tip. Orifices at tips. All 
these parts infinitely tough and leathery, but extremely flexible. Four-foot arms 
with paddles undoubtedly used for locomotion of some sort, marine or 
otherwise. When moved, display suggestions of exaggerated muscularity. As 
found, all these projections tightly folded over pseudoneck and end of torso, 
corresponding to projections at other end. 

"Cannot yet assign positively to animal or vegetable kingdom, but odds now 
favor animal. Probably represents incredibly advanced evolution of radiata 
without loss of certain primitive features. Echinoderm resemblances 
unmistakable despite local contradictory evidences. 

"Wing structure puzzles in view of probable marine habitat, but may have use in 
water navigation. Symmetry is curiously vegetablelike, suggesting vegetable 's 
essential up-and- down structure rather than animal's fore-and-aft structure. 
Fabulously early date of evolution, preceding even simplest Archaean protozoa 
hitherto known, baffles all conjecture as to origin. 

"Complete specimens have such uncanny resemblance to certain creatures of 
primal myth that suggestion of ancient existence outside antarctic becomes 
inevitable. Dyer and Pabodie have read Necronomicon and seen Clark Ashton 
Smith's nightmare paintings based on text, and will understand when I speak of 
Elder Things supposed to have created all earth life as jest or mistake. Students 
have always thought conception formed from morbid imaginative treatment of 
very ancient tropical radiata. Also like prehistoric folklore things Wilmarth has 
spoken of - Cthulhu cult appendages, etc. 

"Vast field of study opened. Deposits probably of late Cretaceous or early Eocene 
period, judging from associated specimens. Massive stalagmites deposited above 
them. Hard work hewing out, but toughness prevented damage. State of 
preservation miraculous, evidently owing to limestone action. No more found so 
far, but will resume search later. Job now to get fourteen huge specimens to camp 
without dogs, which bark furiously and can't be trusted near them. 

"With nine men - three left to guard the dogs - we ought to manage the three 
sledges fairly well, though wind is bad. Must establish plane communication 
with McMurdo Sound and begin shipping material. But I've got to dissect one of 
these things before we take any rest. Wish I had a real laboratory here. Dyer 
better kick himself for having tried to stop my westward trip. First the world's 
greatest mountains, and then this. If this last isn't the high spot of the expedition, 
I don't know what is. We're made scientifically. Congrats, Pabodie, on the drill 
that opened up the cave. Now will Arkham please repeat description?" 



24 



The sensations of Pabodie and myself at receipt of this report were almost 
beyond description, nor were our companions much behind us in enthusiasm. 
McTighe, who had hastily translated a few high spots as they came from the 
droning receiving set, wrote out the entire message from his shorthand version 
as soon as Lake's operator signed off. All appreciated the epoch-making 
significance of the discovery, and I sent Lake congratulations as soon as the 
Arkham's operator had repeated back the descriptive parts as requested; and my 
example was followed by Sherman from his station at the McMurdo Sound 
supply cache, as well as by Captain Douglas of the Arkham. Later, as head of the 
expedition, I added some remarks to be relayed through the Arkham to the 
outside world. Of course, rest was an absurd thought amidst this excitement; and 
my only wish was to get to Lake's camp as quickly as I could. It disappointed me 
when he sent word that a rising mountain gale made early aerial travel 
impossible. 

But within an hour and a half interest again rose to banish disappointment. Lake, 
sending more messages, told of the completely successful transportation of the 
fourteen great specimens to the camp. It had been a hard pull, for the things were 
surprisingly heavy; but nine men had accomplished it very neatly. Now some of 
the party were hurriedly building a snow corral at a safe distance from the camp, 
to which the dogs could be brought for greater convenience in feeding. The 
specimens were laid out on the hard snow near the camp, save for one on which 
Lake was making crude attempts at dissection. 

This dissection seemed to be a greater task than had been expected, for, despite 
the heat of a gasoline stove in the newly raised laboratory tent, the deceptively 
flexible tissues of the chosen specimen - a powerful and intact one - lost nothing 
of their more than leathery toughness. Lake was puzzled as to how he might 
make the requisite incisions without violence destructive enough to upset all the 
structural niceties he was looking for. He had, it is true, seven more perfect 
specimens; but these were too few to use up recklessly unless the cave might 
later yield an unlimited supply. Accordingly he removed the specimen and 
dragged in one which, though having remnants of the starfish arrangements at 
both ends, was badly crushed and partly disrupted along one of the great torso 
furrows. 

Results, quickly reported over the wireless, were baffling and provocative 
indeed. Nothing like delicacy or accuracy was possible with instruments hardly 
able to cut the anomalous tissue, but the little that was achieved left us all awed 
and bewildered. Existing biology would have to be wholly revised, for this thing 
was no product of any cell growth science knows about. There had been scarcely 
any mineral replacement, and despite an age of perhaps forty million years, the 
internal organs were wholly intact. The leathery, undeteriorative, and almost 



25 



indestructible quality was an inherent attribute of the thing's form of 
organization, and pertained to some paleogean cycle of invertebrate evolution 
utterly beyond our powers of speculation. At first all that Lake found was dry, 
but as the heated tent produced its thawing effect, organic moisture of pungent 
and offensive odor was encountered toward the thing's uninjured side. It was 
not blood, but a thick, dark-green fluid apparently answering the same purpose. 
By the time Lake reached this stage, all thirty-seven dogs had been brought to the 
still uncompleted corral near the camp, and even at that distance set up a savage 
barking and show of restlessness at the acrid, diffusive smell. 

Far from helping to place the strange entity, this provisional dissection merely 
deepened its mystery. All guesses about its external members had been correct, 
and on the evidence of these one could hardly hesitate to call the thing animal; 
but internal inspection brought up so many vegetable evidences that Lake was 
left hopelessly at sea. It had digestion and circulation, and eliminated waste 
matter through the reddish tubes of its starfish-shaped base. Cursorily, one 
would say that its respiration apparatus handled oxygen rather than carbon 
dioxide, and there were odd evidences of air-storage chambers and methods of 
shifting respiration from the external orifice to at least two other fully developed 
breathing systems - gills and pores. Clearly, it was amphibian, and probably 
adapted to long airless hibernation periods as well. Vocal organs seemed present 
in connection with the main respiratory system, but they presented anomalies 
beyond immediate solution. Articulate speech, in the sense of syllable utterance, 
seemed barely conceivable, but musical piping notes covering a wide range were 
highly probable. The muscular system was almost prematurely developed. 

The nervous system was so complex and highly developed as to leave Lake 
aghast. Though excessively primitive and archaic in some respects, the thing had 
a set of ganglial centers and connectives arguing the very extremes of specialized 
development. Its five-lobed brain was surprisingly advanced, and there were 
signs of a sensory equipment, served in part through the wiry cilia of the head, 
involving factors alien to any other terrestrial organism. Probably it has more 
than five senses, so that its habits could not be predicted from any existing 
analogy. It must. Lake thought, have been a creature of keen sensitiveness and 
delicately differentiated functions in its primal world - much like the ants and 
bees of today. It reproduced like the vegetable cryptogams, especially the 
Pteridophyta, having spore cases at the tips of the wings and evidently 
developing from a thallus or prothallus. 

But to give it a name at this stage was mere folly. It looked like a radiate, but was 
clearly something more. It was partly vegetable, but had three-fourths of the 
essentials of animal structure. That it was marine in origin, its symmetrical 
contour and certain other attributes clearly indicated; yet one could not be exact 



26 



as to the limit of its later adaptations. The wings, after all, held a persistent 
suggestion of the aerial. How it could have undergone its tremendously complex 
evolution on a new-born earth in time to leave prints in Archaean rocks was so 
far beyond conception as to make Lake whimsically recall the primal myths 
about Great Old Ones who filtered down from the stars and concocted earth life 
as a joke or mistake; and the wild tales of cosmic hill things from outside told by 
a folklorist colleague in Miskatonic's English department. 

Naturally, he considered the possibility of the pre-Cambrian prints having been 
made by a less evolved ancestor of the present specimens, but quickly rejected 
this too-facile theory upon considering the advanced structural qualities of the 
older fossils. If anything, the later contours showed decadence rather than higher 
evolution. The size of the pseudofeet had decreased, and the whole morphology 
seemed coarsened and simplified. Moreover, the nerves and organs just 
examined held singular suggestions of retrogression from forms still more 
complex. Atrophied and vestigial parts were surprisingly prevalent. Altogether, 
little could be said to have been solved; and Lake fell back on mythology for a 
provisional name - jocosely dubbing his finds "The Elder Ones." 

At about 2:30 A.M., having decided to postpone further work and get a little rest, 
he covered the dissected organism with a tarpaulin, emerged from the laboratory 
tent, and studied the intact specimens with renewed interest. The ceaseless 
antarctic sun had begun to limber up their tissues a trifle, so that the head points 
and tubes of two or three showed signs of unfolding; but Lake did not believe 
there was any danger of immediate decomposition in the almost subzero air. He 
did, however, move all the undissected specimens close together and throw a 
spare tent over them in order to keep off the direct solar rays. That would also 
help to keep their possible scent away from the dogs, whose hostile unrest was 
really becoming a problem, even at their substantial distance and behind the 
higher and higher snow walls which an increased quota of the men were 
hastening to raise around their quarters. He had to weight down the corners of 
the tent cloth with heavy blocks of snow to hold it in place amidst the rising gale, 
for the titan mountains seemed about to deliver some gravely severe blasts. Early 
apprehensions about sudden antarctic winds were revived, and under Atwood's 
supervision precautions were taken to bank the tents, new dog corral, and crude 
aeroplane shelters with snow on the mountainward side. These latter shelters, 
begun with hard snow blocks during odd moments, were by no means as high as 
they should have been; and Lake finally detached all hands from other tasks to 
work on them. 

It was after four when Lake at last prepared to sign off and advised us all to 
share the rest period his outfit would take when the shelter walls were a little 
higher. He held some friendly chat with Pabodie over the ether, and repeated his 



27 



praise of the really marvelous drills that had helped him make his discovery. 
Atwood also sent greetings and praises. I gave Lake a warm word of 
congratulations, owning up that he was right about the western trip, and we all 
agreed to get in touch by wireless at ten in the morning. If the gale was then 
over. Lake would send a plane for the party at my base. Just before retiring I 
dispatched a final message to the Arkham with instructions about toning down 
the day's news for the outside world, since the full details seemed radical enough 
to rouse a wave of incredulity until further substantiated. 

Ill 

None of us, I imagine, slept very heavily or continuously that morning. Both the 
excitement of Lake's discovery and the mounting fury of the wind were against 
such a thing. So savage was the blast, even where we were, that we could not 
help wondering how much worse it was at Lake's camp, directly under the vast 
unknown peaks that bred and delivered it. McTighe was awake at ten o'clock 
and tried to get Lake on the wireless, as agreed, but some electrical condition in 
the disturbed air to the westward seemed to prevent communication. We did, 
however, get the Arkham, and Douglas told me that he had likewise been vainly 
trying to reach Lake. He had not known about the wind, for very little was 
blowing at McMurdo Sound, despite its persistent rage where we were. 

Throughout the day we all listened anxiously and tried to get Lake at intervals, 
but invariably without results. About noon a positive frenzy of wind stampeded 
out of the west, causing us to fear for the safety of our camp; but it eventually 
died down, with only a moderate relapse at 2 P.M. After three o'clock it was very 
quiet, and we redoubled our efforts to get Lake. Reflecting that he had four 
planes, each provided with an excellent short-wave outfit, we could not imagine 
any ordinary accident capable of crippling all his wireless equipment at once. 
Nevertheless the stony silence continued, and when we thought of the delirious 
force the wind must have had in his locality we could not help making the more 
direful conjectures. 

By six o'clock our fears had become intense and definite, and after a wireless 
consultation with Douglas and Thorfinnssen I resolved to take steps toward 
investigation. The fifth aeroplane, which we had left at the McMurdo Sound 
supply cache with Sherman and two sailors, was in good shape and ready for 
instant use, and it seemed that the very emergency for which it had been saved 
was now upon us. I got Sherman by wireless and ordered him to join me with 
the plane and the two sailors at the southern base as quickly as possible, the air 
conditions being apparently highly favorable. We then talked over the personnel 
of the coming investigation party, and decided that we would include all hands, 
together with the sledge and dogs which I had kept with me. Even so great a 



28 



load would not be too much for one of the huge planes built to our special orders 
for heavy machinery transportation. At intervals I still tried to reach Lake with 
the wireless, but all to no purpose. 

Sherman, with the sailors Gunnarsson and Larsen, took off at 7:30, and reported 
a quiet flight from several points on the wing. They arrived at our base at 
midnight, and all hands at once discussed the next move. It was risky business 
sailing over the antarctic in a single aeroplane without any line of bases, but no 
one drew back from what seemed like the plainest necessity. We turned in at two 
o'clock for a brief rest after some preliminary loading of the plane, but were up 
again in four hours to finish the loading and packing. 

At 7:15 A.M., January 25th, we started flying northwestward under McTighe's 
pilotage with ten men, seven dogs, a sledge, a fuel and food supply, and other 
items including the plane's wireless outfit. The atmosphere was clear, fairly 
quiet, and relatively mild in temperature, and we anticipated very little trouble 
in reaching the latitude and longitude designated by Lake as the site of his camp. 
Our apprehensions were over what we might find, or fail to find, at the end of 
our journey, for silence continued to answer all calls dispatched to the camp. 

Every incident of that four-and-a-half-hour flight is burned into my recollection 
because of its crucial position in my life. It marked my loss, at the age of fifty- 
four, of all that peace and balance which the normal mind possesses through its 
accustomed conception of external nature and nature's laws. Thenceforward the 
ten of us - but the student Danforth and myself above all others - were to face a 
hideously amplified world of lurking horrors which nothing can erase from our 
emotions, and which we would refrain from sharing with mankind in general if 
we could. The newspapers have printed the bulletins we sent from the moving 
plane, telling of our nonstop course, our two battles with treacherous upper-air 
gales, our glimpse of the broken surface where Lake had sunk his mid-journey 
shaft three days before, and our sight of a group of those strange fluffy snow 
cylinders noted by Amundsen and Byrd as rolling in the wind across the endless 
leagues of frozen plateau. There came a point, though, when our sensations 
could not be conveyed in any words the press would understand, and a latter 
point when we had to adopt an actual rule of strict censorship. 

The sailor Larsen was first to spy the jagged line of witchlike cones and pinnacles 
ahead, and his shouts sent everyone to the windows of the great cabined plane. 
Despite our speed, they were very slow in gaining prominence; hence we knew 
that they must be infinitely far off, and visible only because of their abnormal 
height. Little by little, however, they rose grimly into the western sky; allowing 
us to distinguish various bare, bleak, blackish summits, and to catch the curious 
sense of fantasy which they inspired as seen in the reddish antarctic light against 



29 



the provocative background of iridescent ice-dust clouds. In the whole spectacle 
there was a persistent, pervasive hint of stupendous secrecy and potential 
revelation. It was as if these stark, nightmare spires marked the pylons of a 
frightful gateway into forbidden spheres of dream, and complex gulfs of remote 
time, space, and ultra-dimensionality. I could not help feeling that they were evil 
things - mountains of madness whose farther slopes looked out over some 
accursed ultimate abyss. That seething, half-luminous cloud background held 
ineffable suggestions of a vague, ethereal beyondness far more than terrestrially 
spatial, and gave appalling reminders of the utter remoteness, separateness, 
desolation, and aeon-long death of this untrodden and unfathomed austral 
world. 

It was young Danforth who drew our notice to the curious regularities of the 
higher mountain skyline - regularities like clinging fragments of perfect cubes, 
which Lake had mentioned in his messages, and which indeed justified his 
comparison with the dreamlike suggestions of primordial temple ruins, on 
cloudy Asian mountaintops so subtly and strangely painted by Roerich. There 
was indeed something hauntingly Roerich-like about this whole unearthly 
continent of mountainous mystery. I had felt it in October when we first caught 
sight of Victoria Land, and I felt it afresh now. I felt, too, another wave of uneasy 
consciousness of Archaean mythical resemblances; of how disturbingly this 
lethal realm corresponded to the evilly famed plateau of Leng in the primal 
writings. Mythologists have placed Leng in Central Asia; but the racial memory 
of man - or of his predecessors - is long, and it may well be that certain tales have 
come down from lands and mountains and temples of horror earlier than Asia 
and earlier than any human world we know. A few daring mystics have hinted 
at a pre-Pleistocene origin for the fragmentary Pnakotic Manuscripts, and have 
suggested that the devotees of Tsathoggua were as alien to mankind as 
Tsathoggua itself. Leng, wherever in space or time it might brood, was not a 
region I would care to be in or near, nor did I relish the proximity of a world that 
had ever bred such ambiguous and Archaean monstrosities as those Lake had 
just mentioned. At the moment I felt sorry that I had ever read the abhorred 
Necronomicon, or talked so much with that unpleasantly erudite folklorist 
Wilmarth at the university. 

This mood undoubtedly served to aggravate my reaction to the bizarre mirage 
which burst upon us from the increasingly opalescent zenith as we drew near the 
mountains and began to make out the cumulative undulations of the foothills. I 
had seen dozens of polar mirages during the preceding weeks, some of them 
quite as uncanny and fantastically vivid as the present example; but this one had 
a wholly novel and obscure quality of menacing symbolism, and I shuddered as 
the seething labyrinth of fabulous walls and towers and minarets loomed out of 
the troubled ice vapors above our heads. 



30 



The effect was that of a Cyclopean city of no architecture known to man or to 
human imagination, with vast aggregations of night-black masonry embodying 
monstrous perversions of geometrical laws. There were truncated cones, 
sometimes terraced or fluted, surmounted by tall cylindrical shafts here and 
there bulbously enlarged and often capped with tiers of thinnish scalloped disks; 
and strange beetling, table-like constructions suggesting piles of multitudinous 
rectangular slabs or circular plates or five-pointed stars with each one 
overlapping the one beneath. There were composite cones and pyramids either 
alone or surmounting cylinders or cubes or flatter truncated cones and pyramids, 
and occasional needle-like spires in curious clusters of five. All of these febrile 
structures seemed knit together by tubular bridges crossing from one to the other 
at various dizzy heights, and the implied scale of the whole was terrifying and 
oppressive in its sheer gigantism. The general type of mirage was not unlike 
some of the wilder forms observed and drawn by the arctic whaler Scoresby in 
1820, but at this time and place, with those dark, unknown mountain peaks 
soaring stupendously ahead, that anomalous elder-world discovery in our 
minds, and the pall of probable disaster enveloping the greater part of our 
expedition, we all seemed to find in it a taint of latent malignity and infinitely 
evil portent. 

I was glad when the mirage began to break up, though in the process the various 
nightmare turrets and cones assumed distorted, temporary forms of even vaster 
hideousness. As the whole illusion dissolved to churning opalescence we began 
to look earthward again, and saw that our journey's end was not far off. The 
unknown mountains ahead rose dizzily up like a fearsome rampart of giants, 
their curious regularities showing with startling clearness even without a field 
glass. We were over the lowest foothills now, and could see amidst the snow, ice, 
and bare patches of their main plateau a couple of darkish spots which we took 
to be Lake's camp and boring. The higher foothills shot up between five and six 
miles away, forming a range almost distinct from the terrifying line of more than 
Himalayan peaks beyond them. At length Ropes - the student who had relieved 
McTighe at the controls - began to head downward toward the left-hand dark 
spot whose size marked it as the camp. As he did so, McTighe sent out the last 
uncensored wireless message the world was to receive from our expedition. 

Everyone, of course, has read the brief and unsatisfying bulletins of the rest of 
our antarctic sojourn. Some hours after our landing we sent a guarded report of 
the tragedy we found, and reluctantly announced the wiping out of the whole 
Lake party by the frightful wind of the preceding day, or of the night before that. 
Eleven known dead, young Gedney missing. People pardoned our hazy lack of 
details through realization of the shock the sad event must have caused us, and 
believed us when we explained that the mangling action of the wind had 
rendered all eleven bodies unsuitable for transportation outside. Indeed, I flatter 



31 



myself that even in the midst of our distress, utter bewilderment, and soul- 
clutching horror, we scarcely went beyond the truth in any specific instance. The 
tremendous significance lies in what we dared not tell; what I would not tell now 
but for the need of warning others off from nameless terrors. 

It is a fact that the wind had brought dreadful havoc. Whether all could have 
lived through it, even without the other thing, is gravely open to doubt. The 
storm, with its fury of madly driven ice particles, must have been beyond 
anything our expedition had encountered before. One aeroplane shelter-wall, it 
seems, had been left in a far too flimsy and inadequate state - was nearly 
pulverized - and the derrick at the distant boring was entirely shaken to pieces. 
The exposed metal of the grounded planes and drilling machinery was bruised 
into a high polish, and two of the small tents were flattened despite their snow 
banking. Wooden surfaces left out in the blaster were pitted and denuded of 
paint, and all signs of tracks in the snow were completely obliterated. It is also 
true that we found none of the Archaean biological objects in a condition to take 
outside as a whole. We did gather some minerals from a vast, tumbled pile, 
including several of the greenish soapstone fragments whose odd five-pointed 
rounding and faint patterns of grouped dots caused so many doubtful 
comparisons; and some fossil bones, among which were the most typical of the 
curiously injured specimens. 

None of the dogs survived, their hurriedly built snow inclosure near the camp 
being almost wholly destroyed. The wind may have done that, though the 
greater breakage on the side next the camp, which was not the windward one, 
suggests an outward leap or break of the frantic beasts themselves. All three 
sledges were gone, and we have tried to explain that the wind may have blown 
them off into the unknown. The drill and ice-melting machinery at the boring 
were too badly damaged to warrant salvage, so we used them to choke up that 
subtly disturbing gateway to the past which Lake had blasted. We likewise left at 
the camp the two most shaken up of the planes; since our surviving party had 
only four real pilots - Sherman, Danforth, McTighe, and Ropes - in all, with 
Danforth in a poor nervous shape to navigate. We brought back all the books, 
scientific equipment, and other incidentals we could find, though much was 
rather unaccountably blown away. Spare tents and furs were either missing or 
badly out of condition. 

It was approximately 4 P.M., after wide plane cruising had forced us to give 
Gedney up for lost, that we sent our guarded message to the Arkham for 
relaying; and I think we did well to keep it as calm and noncommittal as we 
succeeded in doing. The most we said about agitation concerned our dogs, 
whose frantic uneasiness near the biological specimens was to be expected from 
poor Lake's accounts. We did not mention, I think, their display of the same 



32 



uneasiness when sniffing around the queer greenish soapstones and certain other 
objects in the disordered region-objects including scientific instruments, 
aeroplanes, and machinery, both at the camp and at the boring, whose parts had 
been loosened, moved, or otherwise tampered with by winds that must have 
harbored singular curiosity and investigativeness. 

About the fourteen biological specimens, we were pardonably indefinite. We 
said that the only ones we discovered were damaged, but that enough was left of 
them to prove Lake's description wholly and impressively accurate. It was hard 
work keeping our personal emotions out of this matter - and we did not mention 
numbers or say exactly how we had found those which we did find. We had by 
that time agreed not to transmit anything suggesting madness on the part of 
Lake's men, and it surely looked like madness to find six imperfect monstrosities 
carefully buried upright in nine-foot snow graves under five-pointed mounds 
punched over with groups of dots in patterns exactly those on the queer greenish 
soapstones dug up from Mesozoic or Tertiary times. The eight perfect specimens 
mentioned by Lake seemed to have been completely blown away. 

We were careful, too, about the public's general peace of mind; hence Danforth 
and I said little about that frightful trip over the mountains the next day. It was 
the fact that only a radically lightened plane could possibly cross a range of such 
height, which mercifully limited that scouting tour to the two of us. On our 
return at one A.M., Danforth was close to hysterics, but kept an admirably stiff 
upper lip. It took no persuasion to make him promise not to show our sketches 
and the other things we brought away in our pockets, not to say anything more 
to the others than what we had agreed to relay outside, and to hide our camera 
films for private development later on; so that part of my present story will be as 
new to Pabodie, McTighe, Ropes, Sherman, and the rest as it will be to the world 
in general. Indeed, Danforth is closer mouthed than I: for he saw, or thinks he 
saw, one thing he will not tell even me. 

As all know, our report included a tale of a hard ascent - a confirmation of Lake's 
opinion that the great peaks are of Archaean slate and other very primal 
crumpled strata unchanged since at least middle Comanchian times; a 
conventional comment on the regularity of the clinging cube and rampart 
formations; a decision that the cave mouths indicate dissolved calcaerous veins; a 
conjecture that certain slopes and passes would permit of the scaling and 
crossing of the entire range by seasoned mountaineers; and a remark that the 
mysterious other side holds a lofty and immense superplateau as ancient and 
unchanging as the mountains themselves - twenty thousand feet in elevation, 
with grotesque rock formations protruding through a thin glacial layer and with 
low gradual foothills between the general plateau surface and the sheer 
precipices of the highest peaks. 



33 



This body of data is in every respect true so far as it goes, and it completely 
satisfied the men at the camp. We laid our absence of sixteen hours - a longer 
time than our announced flying, landing, reconnoitering, and rock-collecting 
program called for - to a long mythical spell of adverse wind conditions, and told 
truly of our landing on the farther foothills. Fortunately our tale sounded 
realistic and prosaic enough not to tempt any of the others into emulating our 
flight. Had any tried to do that, I would have used every ounce of my persuasion 
to stop them - and I do not know what Danforth would have done. While we 
were gone, Pabodie, Sherman, Ropes, McTighe, and Williamson had worked like 
beavers over Lake's two best planes, fitting them again for use despite the 
altogether unaccountable juggling of their operative mechanism. 

We decided to load all the planes the next morning and start back for our old 
base as soon as possible. Even though indirect, that was the safest way to work 
toward McMurdo Sound; for a straightline flight across the most utterly 
unknown stretches of the aeon-dead continent would involve many additional 
hazards. Further exploration was hardly feasible in view of our tragic decimation 
and the ruin of our drilling machinery. The doubts and horrors around us - 
which we did not reveal - made us wish only to escape from this austral world of 
desolation and brooding madness as swiftly as we could. 

As the public knows, our return to the world was accomplished without further 
disasters. All planes reached the old base on the evening of the next day - 
January 27th - after a swift nonstop flight; and on the 28th we made McMurdo 
Sound in two laps, the one pause being very brief, and occasioned by a faulty 
rudder in the furious wind over the ice shelf after we had cleared the great 
plateau. In five days more, the Arkham and Miskatonic, with all hands and 
equipment on board, were shaking clear of the thickening field ice and working 
up Ross Sea with the mocking mountains of Victoria Land looming westward 
against a troubled antarctic sky and twisting the wind's wails into a wide-ranged 
musical piping which chilled my soul to the quick. Less than a fortnight later we 
left the last hint of polar land behind us and thanked heaven that we were clear 
of a haunted, accursed realm where life and death, space and time, have made 
black and blasphemous alliances, in the unknown epochs since matter first 
writhed and swam on the planet's scarce-cooled crust. 

Since our return we have all constantly worked to discourage antarctic 
exploration, and have kept certain doubts and guesses to ourselves with 
splendid unity and faithfulness. Even young Danforth, with his nervous 
breakdown, has not flinched or babbled to his doctors - indeed, as I have said, 
there is one thing he thinks he alone saw which he will not tell even me, though I 
think it would help his psychological state if he would consent to do so. It might 
explain and relieve much, though perhaps the thing was no more than the 



34 



delusive aftermath of an earlier shock. That is the impression I gather after those 
rare, irresponsible moments when he whispers disjointed things to me - things 
which he repudiates vehemently as soon as he gets a grip on himself again. 

It will be hard work deterring others from the great white south, and some of our 
efforts may directly harm our cause by drawing inquiring notice. We might have 
known from the first that human curiosity is undying, and that the results we 
announced would be enough to spur others ahead on the same age-long pursuit 
of the unknown. Lake's reports of those biological monstrosities had aroused 
naturalists and paleontologists to the highest pitch, though we were sensible 
enough not to show the detached parts we had taken from the actual buried 
specimens, or our photographs of those specimens as they were found. We also 
refrained from showing the more puzzling of the scarred bones and greenish 
soapstones; while Danforth and I have closely guarded the pictures we took or 
drew on the superplateau across the range, and the crumpled things we 
smoothed, studied in terror, and brought away in our pockets. 

But now that Starkweather-Moore party is organizing, and with a thoroughness 
far beyond anything our outfit attempted. If not dissuaded, they will get to the 
innermost nucleus of the antarctic and melt and bore till they bring up that 
which we know may end the world. So I must break through all reticences at last 
- even about that ultimate, nameless thing beyond the mountains of madness. 

IV 

It is only with vast hesitancy and repugnance that I let my mind go back to 
Lake's camp and what we really found there - and to that other thing beyond the 
mountains of madness. I am constantly tempted to shirk the details, and to let 
hints stand for actual facts and ineluctable deductions. I hope I have said enough 
already to let me glide briefly over the rest; the rest, that is, of the horror at the 
camp. I have told of the wind-ravaged terrain, the damaged shelters, the 
disarranged machinery, the varied uneasiness of our dogs, the missing sledges 
and other items, the deaths of men and dogs, the absence of Gedney, and the six 
insanely buried biological specimens, strangely sound in texture for all their 
structural injuries, from a world forty million years dead. I do not recall whether 
I mentioned that upon checking up the canine bodies we found one dog missing. 
We did not think much about that till later - indeed, only Danforth and I have 
thought of it at all. 

The principal things I have been keeping back relate to the bodies, and to certain 
subtle points which may or may not lend a hideous and incredible kind of 
rationale to the apparent chaos. At the time, I tried to keep the men's minds off 
those points; for it was so much simpler - so much more normal - to lay 



35 



everything to an outbreak of madness on the part of some of Lake's party. From 
the look of things, that demon mountain wind must have been enough to drive 
any man mad in the midst of this center of all earthly mystery and desolation. 

The crowning abnormality, of course, was the condition of the bodies - men and 
dogs alike. They had all been in some terrible kind of conflict, and were torn and 
mangled in fiendish and altogether inexplicable ways. Death, so far as we could 
judge, had in each case come from strangulation or laceration. The dogs had 
evidently started the trouble, for the state of their ill-built corral bore witness to 
its forcible breakage from within. It had been set some distance from the camp 
because of the hatred of the animals for those hellish Archaean organisms, but 
the precaution seemed to have been taken in vain. When left alone in that 
monstrous wind, behind flimsy walls of insufficient height, they must have 
stampeded - whether from the wind itself, or from some subtle, increasing odor 
emitted by the nightmare specimens, one could not say. 

But whatever had happened, it was hideous and revolting enough. Perhaps I had 
better put squeamishness aside and tell the worst at last - though with a 
categorical statement of opinion, based on the first-hand observations and most 
rigid deductions of both Danforth and myself, that the then missing Gedney was 
in no way responsible for the loathsome horrors we found. I have said that the 
bodies were frightfully mangled. Now I must add that some were incised and 
subtracted from in the most curious, cold-blooded, and inhuman fashion. It was 
the same with dogs and men. All the healthier, fatter bodies, quadrupedal or 
bipedal, had had their most solid masses of tissue cut out and removed, as by a 
careful butcher; and around them was a strange sprinkling of salt - taken from 
the ravaged provision chests on the planes - which conjured up the most horrible 
associations. The thing had occurred in one of the crude aeroplane shelters from 
which the plane had been dragged out, and subsequent winds had effaced all 
tracks which could have supplied any plausible theory. Scattered bits of clothing, 
roughly slashed from the human incision subjects, hinted no clues. It is useless to 
bring up the half impression of certain faint snow prints in one shielded corner of 
the ruined inclosure - because that impression did not concern human prints at 
all, but was clearly mixed up with all the talk of fossil prints which poor Lake 
had been giving throughout the preceding weeks. One had to be careful of one's 
imagination in the lee of those overshadowing mountains of madness. 

As I have indicated, Gedney and one dog turned out to be missing in the end. 
When we came on that terrible shelter we had missed two dogs and two men; 
but the fairly unharmed dissecting tent, which we entered after investigating the 
monstrous graves, had something to reveal. It was not as Lake had left it, for the 
covered parts of the primal monstrosity had been removed from the improvised 
table. Indeed, we had already realized that one of the six imperfect and insanely 



36 



buried things we had found - the one with the trace of a pecuharly hateful odor - 
must represent the collected sections of the entity which Lake had tried to 
analyze. On and around that laboratory table were strewn other things, and it 
did not take long for us to guess that those things were the carefully though 
oddly and inexpertly dissected parts of one man and one dog. I shall spare the 
feelings of survivors by omitting mention of the man's identity. Lake's 
anatomical instruments were missing, but there were evidences of their careful 
cleansing. The gasoline stove was also gone, though around it we found a 
curious litter of matches. We buried the human parts beside the other ten men; 
and the canine parts with the other thirty-five dogs. Concerning the bizarre 
smudges on the laboratory table, and on the jumble of roughly handled 
illustrated books scattered near it, we were much too bewildered to speculate. 

This formed the worst of the camp horror, but other things were equally 
perplexing. The disappearance of Gedney, the one dog, the eight uninjured 
biological specimens, the three sledges, and certain instruments, illustrated 
technical and scientific books, writing materials, electric torches and batteries, 
food and fuel, heating apparatus, spare tents, fur suits, and the like, was utterly 
beyond sane conjecture; as were likewise the spatter-fringed ink blots on certain 
pieces of paper, and the evidences of curious alien fumbling and experimentation 
around the planes and all other mechanical devices both at the camp and at the 
boring. 

The dogs seemed to abhor this oddly disordered machinery. Then, too, there was 
the upsetting of the larder, the disappearance of certain staples, and the jarringly 
comical heap of tin cans pried open in the most unlikely ways and at the most 
unlikely places. The profusion of scattered matches, intact, broken, or spent, 
formed another minor enigma - as did the two or three tent cloths and fur suits 
which we found lying about with peculiar and unorthodox slashings conceivably 
due to clumsy efforts at unimaginable adaptations. The maltreatment of the 
human and canine bodies, and the crazy burial of the damaged Archaean 
specimens, were all of a piece with this apparent disintegrative madness. In view 
of just such an eventuality as the present one, we carefully photographed all the 
main evidences of insane disorder at the camp; and shall use the prints to 
buttress our pleas against the departure of the proposed Starkweather- Moore 
Expedition. 

Our first act after finding the bodies in the shelter was to photograph and open 
the row of insane graves with the five-pointed snow mounds. We could not help 
noticing the resemblance of these monstrous mounds, with their clusters of 
grouped dots, to poor Lake's descriptions of the strange greenish soapstones; 
and when we came on some of the soapstones themselves in the great mineral 
pile, we found the likeness very close indeed. The whole general formation, it 



37 



must be made clear, seemed abominably suggestive of the starfish head of the 
Archaean entities; and we agreed that the suggestion must have worked potently 
upon the sensitized minds of Lake's overwrought party. 

For madness - centering in Gedney as the only possible surviving agent - was the 
explanation spontaneously adopted by everybody so far as spoken utterance was 
concerned; though I will not be so naive as to deny that each of us may have 
harbored wild guesses which sanity forbade him to formulate completely. 
Sherman, Pabodie, and McTighe made an exhaustive aeroplane cruise over all 
the surrounding territory in the afternoon, sweeping the horizon with field 
glasses in quest of Gedney and of the various missing things; but nothing came 
to light. The party reported that the titan barrier range extended endlessly to 
right and left alike, without any diminution in height or essential structure. On 
some of the peaks, though, the regular cube and rampart formations were bolder 
and plainer, having doubly fantastic similitudes to Roerich-painted Asian hill 
ruins. The distribution of cryptical cave mouths on the black snow-denuded 
summits seemed roughly even as far as the range could be traced. 

In spite of all the prevailing horrors, we were left with enough sheer scientific 
zeal and adventurousness to wonder about the unknown realm beyond those 
mysterious mountains. As our guarded messages stated, we rested at midnight 
after our day of terror and bafflement - but not without a tentative plan for one 
or more range-crossing altitude flights in a lightened plane with aerial camera 
and geologist's outfit, beginning the following morning. It was decided that 
Danforth and I try it first, and we awaked at 7 A.M. intending an early flight; 
however, heavy winds - mentioned in our brief, bulletin to the outside world - 
delayed our start till nearly nine o'clock. 

I have already repeated the noncommittal story we told the men at camp - and 
relayed outside - after our return sixteen hours later. It is now my terrible duty to 
amplify this account by filling in the merciful blanks with hints of what we really 
saw in the hidden transmontane world - hints of the revelations which have 
finally driven Danforth to a nervous collapse. I wish he would add a really frank 
word about the thing which he thinks he alone saw - even though it was 
probably a nervous delusion - and which was perhaps the last straw that put him 
where he is; but he is firm against that. All I can do is to repeat his later 
disjointed whispers about what set him shrieking as the plane soared back 
through the wind-tortured mountain pass after that real and tangible shock 
which I shared. This will form my last word. If the plain signs of surviving elder 
horrors in what I disclose be not enough to keep others from meddling with the 
inner antarctic - or at least from prying too deeply beneath the surface of that 
ultimate waste of forbidden secrets and inhuman, aeon-cursed desolation - the 
responsibility for unnamable and perhaps immeasurable evils will not be mine. 



38 



Danforth and I, studying the notes made by Pabodie in his afternoon flight and 
checking up with a sextant, had calculated that the lowest available pass in the 
range lay somewhat to the right of us, within sight of camp, and about twenty- 
three thousand or twenty-four thousand feet above sea level. For this point, then, 
we first headed in the lightened plane as we embarked on our flight of discovery. 
The camp itself, on foothills which sprang from a high continental plateau, was 
some twelve thousand feet in altitude; hence the actual height increase necessary 
was not so vast as it might seem. Nevertheless we were acutely conscious of the 
rarefied air and intense cold as we rose; for, on account of visibility conditions, 
we had to leave the cabin windows open. We were dressed, of course, in our 
heaviest furs. 

As we drew near the forbidding peaks, dark and sinister above the line of 
crevasse-riven snow and interstitial glaciers, we noticed more and more the 
curiously regular formations clinging to the slopes; and thought again of the 
strange Asian paintings of Nicholas Roerich. The ancient and wind-weathered 
rock strata fully verified all of Lake's bulletins, and proved that these pinnacles 
had been towering up in exactly the same way since a surprisingly early time in 
earth's history - perhaps over fifty million years. How much higher they had 
once been, it was futile to guess; but everything about this strange region pointed 
to obscure atmospheric influences unfavorable to change, and calculated to 
retard the usual climatic processes of rock disintegration. 

But it was the mountainside tangle of regular cubes, ramparts, and cave mouths 
which fascinated and disturbed us most. I studied them with a field glass and 
took aerial photographs while Danforth drove; and at times I relieved him at the 
controls - though my aviation knowledge was purely an amateur's - in order to 
let him use the binoculars. We could easily see that much of the material of the 
things was a lightish Archaean quartzite, unlike any formation visible over broad 
areas of the general surface; and that their regularity was extreme and uncanny 
to an extent which poor Lake had scarcely hinted. 

As he had said, their edges were crumbled and rounded from untold aeons of 
savage weathering; but their preternatural solidity and tough material had saved 
them from obliteration. Many parts, especially those closest to the slopes, seemed 
identical in substance with the surrounding rock surface. The whole arrangement 
looked like the ruins of Macchu Picchu in the Andes, or the primal foundation 
walls of Kish as dug up by the Oxford Field Museum Expedition in 1929; and 
both Danforth and I obtained that occasional impression of separate Cyclopean 
blocks which Lake had attributed to his flight-companion Carroll. How to 
account for such things in this place was frankly beyond me, and I felt queerly 
humbled as a geologist. Igneous formations often have strange regularities - like 
the famous Giants' Causeway in Ireland - but this stupendous range, despite 



39 



Lake's original suspicion of smoking cones, was above all else nonvolcanic in 
evident structure. 

The curious cave mouths, near which the odd formations seemed most 
abundant, presented another albeit a lesser puzzle because of their regularity of 
outline. They were, as Lake's bulletin had said, often approximately square or 
semicircular; as if the natural orifices had been shaped to greater symmetry by 
some magic hand. Their numerousness and wide distribution were remarkable, 
and suggested that the whole region was honeycombed with tunnels dissolved 
out of limestone strata. Such glimpses as we secured did not extend far within 
the caverns, but we saw that they were apparently clear of stalactites and 
stalagmites. Outside, those parts of the mountain slopes adjoining the apertures 
seemed invariably smooth and regular; and Danforth thought that the slight 
cracks and pittings of the weathering tended toward unusual patterns. Filled as 
he was with the horrors and strangenesses discovered at the camp, he hinted that 
the pittings vaguely resembled those baffling groups of dots sprinkled over the 
primeval greenish soapstones, so hideously duplicated on the madly conceived 
snow mounds above those six buried monstrosities. 

We had risen gradually in flying over the higher foothills and along toward the 
relatively low pass we had selected. As we advanced we occasionally looked 
down at the snow and ice of the land route, wondering whether we could have 
attempted the trip with the simpler equipment of earlier days. Somewhat to our 
surprise we saw that the terrain was far from difficult as such things go; and that 
despite the crevasses and other bad spots it would not have been likely to deter 
the sledges of a Scott, a Shackleton, or an Amundsen. Some of the glaciers 
appeared to lead up to wind-bared passes with unusual continuity, and upon 
reaching our chosen pass we found that its case formed no exception. 

Our sensations of tense expectancy as we prepared to round the crest and peer 
out over an untrodden world can hardly be described on paper; even though we 
had no cause to think the regions beyond the range essentially different from 
those already seen and traversed. The touch of evil mystery in these barrier 
mountains, and in the beckoning sea of opalescent sky glimpsed betwixt their 
summits, was a highly subtle and attenuated matter not to be explained in literal 
words. Rather was it an affair of vague psychological symbolism and aesthetic 
association - a thing mixed up with exotic poetry and paintings, and with archaic 
myths lurking in shunned and forbidden volumes. Even the wind's burden held 
a peculiar strain of conscious malignity; and for a second it seemed that the 
composite sound included a bizarre musical whistling or piping over a wide 
range as the blast swept in and out of the omnipresent and resonant cave 
mouths. There was a cloudy note of reminiscent repulsion in this sound, as 
complex and unplaceable as any of the other dark impressions. 



40 



We were now, after a slow ascent, at a height of twenty-three thousand, five 
hundred and seventy feet according to the aneroid; and had left the region of 
clinging snow definitely below us. Up here were only dark, bare rock slopes and 
the start of rough-ribbed glaciers - but with those provocative cubes, ramparts, 
and echoing cave mouths to add a portent of the unnatural, the fantastic, and the 
dreamlike. Looking along the line of high peaks, I thought I could see the one 
mentioned by poor Lake, with a rampart exactly on top. It seemed to be half lost 
in a queer antarctic haze - such a haze, perhaps, as had been responsible for 
Lake's early notion of volcanism. The pass loomed directly before us, smooth 
and windswept between its jagged and malignly frowning pylons. Beyond it was 
a sky fretted with swirling vapors and lighted by the low polar sun - the sky of 
that mysterious farther realm upon which we felt no human eye had ever gazed. 

A few more feet of altitude and we would behold that realm. Danforth and I, 
unable to speak except in shouts amidst the howling, piping wind that raced 
through the pass and added to the noise of the unmuffled engines, exchanged 
eloquent glances. And then, having gained those last few feet, we did indeed 
stare across the momentous divide and over the unsampled secrets of an elder 
and utterly alien earth. 

V 

I think that both of us simultaneously cried out in mixed awe, wonder, terror, 
and disbelief in our own senses as we finally cleared the pass and saw what lay 
beyond. Of course, we must have had some natural theory in the back of our 
heads to steady our faculties for the moment. Probably we thought of such things 
as the grotesquely weathered stones of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado, or 
the fantastically symmetrical wind-carved rocks of the Arizona desert. Perhaps 
we even half thought the sight a mirage like that we had seen the morning before 
on first approaching those mountains of madness. We must have had some such 
normal notions to fall back upon as our eyes swept that limitless, tempest- 
scarred plateau and grasped the almost endless labyrinth of colossal, regular, 
and geometrically eurythmic stone masses which reared their crumbled and 
pitted crests above a glacial sheet not more than forty or fifty feet deep at its 
thickest, and in places obviously thinner. 

The effect of the monstrous sight was indescribable, for some fiendish violation 
of known natural law seemed certain at the outset. Here, on a hellishly ancient 
table-land fully twenty thousand feet high, and in a climate deadly to habitation 
since a prehuman age not less than five hundred thousand years ago, there 
stretched nearly to the vision's limit a tangle of orderly stone which only the 
desperation of mental self- defense could possibly attribute to any but conscious 
and artificial cause. We had previously dismissed, so far as serious thought was 



41 



concerned, any theory that the cubes and ramparts of the mountainsides were 
other than natural in origin. How could they be otherwise, when man himself 
could scarcely have been differentiated from the great apes at the time when this 
region succumbed to the present unbroken reign of glacial death? 

Yet now the sway of reason seemed irrefutably shaken, for this Cyclopean maze 
of squared, curved, and angled blocks had features which cut off all comfortable 
refuge. It was, very clearly, the blasphemous city of the mirage in stark, objective, 
and ineluctable reality. That damnable portent had had a material basis after all - 
there had been some horizontal stratum of ice dust in the upper air, and this 
shocking stone survival had projected its image across the mountains according 
to the simple laws of reflection. Of course, the phantom had been twisted and 
exaggerated, and had contained things which the real source did not contain; yet 
now, as we saw that real source, we thought it even more hideous and menacing 
than its distant image. 

Only the incredible, unhuman massiveness of these vast stone towers and 
ramparts had saved the frightful things from utter annihilation in the hundreds 
of thousands - perhaps millions - of years it had brooded there amidst the blasts 
of a bleak upland. "Corona Mundi - Roof of the World - " All sorts of fantastic 
phrases sprang to our lips as we looked dizzily down at the unbelievable 
spectacle. I thought again of the eldritch primal myths that had so persistently 
haunted me since my first sight of this dead antarctic world - of the demoniac 
plateau of Leng, of the Mi-Go, or abominable Snow Men of the Himalayas, of the 
Pnakotic Manuscripts with their prehuman implications, of the Cthulhu cult, of 
the Necronomicon, and of the Hyperborean legends of formless Tsathoggua and 
the worse than formless star spawn associated with that semientity. 

For boundless miles in every direction the thing stretched off with very little 
thinning; indeed, as our eyes followed it to the right and left along the base of the 
low, gradual foothills which separated it from the actual mountain rim, we 
decided that we could see no thinning at all except for an interruption at the left 
of the pass through which we had come. We had merely struck, at random, a 
limited part of something of incalculable extent. The foothills were more sparsely 
sprinkled with grotesque stone structures, linking the terrible city to the already 
familiar cubes and ramparts which evidently formed its mountain outposts. 
These latter, as well as the queer cave mouths, were as thick on the inner as on 
the outer sides of the mountains. 

The nameless stone labyrinth consisted, for the most part, of walls from ten to 
one hundred and fifty feet in ice-clear height, and of a thickness varying from 
five to ten feet. It was composed mostly of prodigious blocks of dark primordial 
slate, schist, and sandstone - blocks in many cases as large as 4 x 6 x 8 feet - 



42 



though in several places it seemed to be carved out of a solid, uneven bed rock of 
pre-Cambrian slate. The buildings were far from equal in size, there being 
innumerable honeycomb arrangements of enormous extent as well as smaller 
separate structures. The general shape of these things tended to be conical, 
pyramidal, or terraced; though there were many perfect cylinders, perfect cubes, 
clusters of cubes, and other rectangular forms, and a peculiar sprinkling of 
angled edifices whose five-pointed ground plan roughly suggested modern 
fortifications. The builders had made constant and expert use of the principle of 
the arch, and domes had probably existed in the city's heyday. 

The whole tangle was monstrously weathered, and the glacial surface from 
which the towers projected was strewn with fallen blocks and immemorial 
debris. Where the glaciation was transparent we could see the lower parts of the 
gigantic piles, and we noticed the ice-preserved stone bridges which connected 
the different towers at varying distances above the ground. On the exposed walls 
we could detect the scarred places where other and higher bridges of the same 
sort had existed. Closer inspection revealed countless largish windows; some of 
which were closed with shutters of a petrified material originally wood, though 
most gaped open in a sinister and menacing fashion. Many of the ruins, of 
course, were roofless, and with uneven though wind-rounded upper edges; 
whilst others, of a more sharply conical or pyramidal model or else protected by 
higher surrounding structures, preserved intact outlines despite the omnipresent 
crumbling and pitting. With the field glass we could barely make out what 
seemed to be sculptural decorations in horizontal bands - decorations including 
those curious groups of dots whose presence on the ancient soapstones now 
assumed a vastly larger significance. 

In many places the buildings were totally ruined and the ice sheet deeply riven 
from various geologic causes. In other places the stonework was worn down to 
the very level of the glaciation. One broad swath, extending from the plateau's 
interior, to a cleft in the foothills about a mile to the left of the pass we had 
traversed, was wholly free from buildings. It probably represented, we 
concluded, the course of some great river which in Tertiary times - millions of 
years ago - had poured through the city and into some prodigious subterranean 
abyss of the great barrier range. Certainly, this was above all a region of caves, 
gulfs, and underground secrets beyond human penetration. 

Looking back to our sensations, and recalling our dazedness at viewing this 
monstrous survival from aeons we had thought prehuman, I can only wonder 
that we preserved the semblance of equilibrium, which we did. Of course, we 
knew that something - chronology, scientific theory, or our own consciousness - 
was woefully awry; yet we kept enough poise to guide the plane, observe many 
things quite minutely, and take a careful series of photographs which may yet 



43 



serve both us and the world in good stead. In my case, ingrained scientific habit 
may have helped; for above all my bewilderment and sense of menace, there 
burned a dominant curiosity to fathom more of this age-old secret - to know 
what sort of beings had built and lived in this incalculably gigantic place, and 
what relation to the general world of its time or of other times so unique a 
concentration of life could have had. 

For this place could be no ordinary city. It must have formed the primary 
nucleus and center of some archaic and unbelievable chapter of earth's history 
whose outward ramifications, recalled only dimly in the most obscure and 
distorted myths, had vanished utterly amidst the chaos of terrene convulsions 
long before any human race we know had shambled out of apedom. Here 
sprawled a Palaeogaean megalopolis compared with which the fabled Atlantis 
and Lemuria, Commoriom and Uzuldaroum, and Olathoc in the land of Lomar, 
are recent things of today - not even of yesterday; a megalopolis ranking with 
such whispered prehuman blasphemies as Valusia, R'lyeh, lb in the land of 
Mnar, and the Nameless city of Arabia Deserta. As we flew above that tangle of 
stark titan towers my imagination sometimes escaped all bounds and roved 
aimlessly in realms of fantastic associations - even weaving links betwixt this lost 
world and some of my own wildest dreams concerning the mad horror at the 
camp. 

The plane's fuel tank, in the interest of greater lightness, had been only partly 
filled; hence we now had to exert caution in our explorations. Even so, however, 
we covered an enormous extent of ground - or, rather, air - after swooping down 
to a level where the wind became virtually negligible. There seemed to be no 
limit to the mountain range, or to the length of the frightful stone city which 
bordered its inner foothills. Fifty miles of flight in each direction showed no 
major change in the labyrinth of rock and masonry that clawed up corpselike 
through the eternal ice. There were, though, some highly absorbing 
diversifications; such as the carvings on the canyon where that broad river had 
once pierced the foothills and approached its sinking place in the great range. 
The headlands at the stream's entrance had been boldly carved into Cyclopean 
pylons; and something about the ridgy, barrel-shaped designs stirred up oddly 
vague, hateful, and confusing semi-remembrances in both Danforth and me. 

We also came upon several star-shaped open spaces, evidently public squares, 
and noted various undulations in the terrain. Where a sharp hill rose, it was 
generally hollowed out into some sort of rambling-stone edifice; but there were 
at least two exceptions. Of these latter, one was too badly weathered to disclose 
what had been on the jutting eminence, while the other still bore a fantastic 
conical monument carved out of the solid rock and roughly resembling such 
things as the well-known Snake Tomb in the ancient valley of Petra. 



44 



Flying inland from the mountains, we discovered that the city was not of infinite 
width, even though its length along the foothills seemed endless. After about 
thirty miles the grotesque stone buildings began to thin out, and in ten more 
miles we came to an unbroken waste virtually without signs of sentient artifice. 
The course of the river beyond the city seemed marked by a broad, depressed 
line, while the land assumed a somewhat greater ruggedness, seeming to slope 
slightly upward as it receded in the mist-hazed west. 

So far we had made no landing, yet to leave the plateau without an attempt at 
entering some of the monstrous structures would have been inconceivable. 
Accordingly, we decided to find a smooth place on the foothills near our 
navigable pass, there grounding the plane and preparing to do some exploration 
on foot. Though these gradual slopes were partly covered with a scattering of 
ruins, low flying soon disclosed an ampler number of possible landing places. 
Selecting that nearest to the pass, since our flight would be across the great range 
and back to camp, we succeeded about 12:30 P.M. in effecting a landing on a 
smooth, hard snow field wholly devoid of obstacles and well adapted to a swift 
and favorable take- off later on. 

It did not seem necessary to protect the plane with a snow banking for so brief a 
time and in so comfortable an absence of high winds at this level; hence we 
merely saw that the landing skis were safely lodged, and that the vital parts of 
the mechanism were guarded against the cold. For our foot journey we discarded 
the heaviest of our flying furs, and took with us a small outfit consisting of 
pocket compass, hand camera, light provisions, voluminous notebooks and 
paper, geologist's hammer and chisel, specimen bags, coil of climbing rope, and 
powerful electric torches with extra batteries; this equipment having been carried 
in the plane on the chance that we might be able to effect a landing, take ground 
pictures, make drawings and topographical sketches, and obtain rock specimens 
from some bare slope, outcropping, or mountain cave. Fortunately we had a 
supply of extra paper to tear up, place in a spare specimen bag, and use on the 
ancient principle of hare and hounds for marking our course in any interior 
mazes we might be able to penetrate. This had been brought in case we found 
some cave system with air quiet enough to allow such a rapid and easy method 
in place of the usual rock-chipping method of trail blazing. 

Walking cautiously downhill over the crusted snow toward the stupendous 
stone labyrinth that loomed against the opalescent west, we felt almost as keen a 
sense of imminent marvels as we had felt on approaching the unfathomed 
mountain pass four hours previously. True, we had become visually familiar 
with the incredible secret concealed by the barrier peaks; yet the prospect of 
actually entering primordial walls reared by conscious beings perhaps millions 
of years ago - before any known race of men could have existed - was none the 



45 



less awesome and potentially terrible in its implications of cosmic abnormality. 
Though the thinness of the air at this prodigious altitude made exertion 
somewhat more difficult than usual, both Danforth and I found ourselves 
bearing up very well, and felt equal to almost any task which might fall to our 
lot. It took only a few steps to bring us to a shapeless ruin worn level with the 
snow, while ten or fifteen rods farther on there was a huge, roofless rampart still 
complete in its gigantic five-pointed outline and rising to an irregular height of 
ten or eleven feet. For this latter we headed; and when at last we were actually 
able to touch its weathered Cyclopean blocks, we felt that we had established an 
unprecedented and almost blasphemous link with forgotten aeons normally 
closed to our species. 

This rampart, shaped like a star and perhaps three hundred feet from point to 
point, was built of Jurassic sandstone blocks of irregular size, averaging 6x8 feet 
in surface. There was a row of arched loopholes or windows about four feet wide 
and five feet high, spaced quite symmetrically along the points of the star and at 
its inner angles, and with the bottoms about four feet from the glaciated surface. 
Looking through these, we could see that the masonry was fully five feet thick, 
that there were no partitions remaining within, and that there were traces of 
banded carvings or bas-reliefs on the interior walls - facts we had indeed guessed 
before, when flying low over this rampart and others like it. Though lower parts 
must have originally existed, all traces of such things were now wholly obscured 
by the deep layer of ice and snow at this point. 

We crawled through one of the windows and vainly tried to decipher the nearly 
effaced mural designs, but did not attempt to disturb the glaciated floor. Our 
orientation flights had indicated that many buildings in the city proper were less 
ice-choked, and that we might perhaps find wholly clear interiors leading down 
to the true ground level if we entered those structures still roofed at the top. 
Before we left the rampart we photographed it carefully, and studied its mortar- 
less Cyclopean masonry with complete bewilderment. We wished that Pabodie 
were present, for his engineering knowledge might have helped us guess how 
such titanic blocks could have been handled in that unbelievably remote age 
when the city and its outskirts were built up. 

The half-mile walk downhill to the actual city, with the upper wind shrieking 
vainly and savagely through the skyward peaks in the background, was 
something of which the smallest details will always remain engraved on my 
mind. Only in fantastic nightmares could any human beings but Danforth and 
me conceive such optical effects. Between us and the churning vapors of the west 
lay that monstrous tangle of dark stone towers, its outre and incredible forms 
impressing us afresh at every new angle of vision. It was a mirage in solid stone, 
and were it not for the photographs, I would still doubt that such a thing could 



46 



be. The general type of masonry was identical with that of the rampart we had 
examined; but the extravagant shapes which this masonry took in its urban 
manifestations were past all description. 

Even the pictures illustrate only one or two phases of its endless variety, 
preternatural massiveness, and utterly alien exoticism. There were geometrical 
forms for which an Euclid would scarcely find a name - cones of all degrees of 
irregularity and truncation, terraces of every sort of provocative disproportion, 
shafts with odd bulbous enlargements, broken columns in curious groups, and 
five-pointed or five-ridged arrangements of mad grotesqueness. As we drew 
nearer we could see beneath certain transparent parts of the ice sheet, and detect 
some of the tubular stone bridges that connected the crazily sprinkled structures 
at various heights. Of orderly streets there seemed to be none, the only broad 
open swath being a mile to the left, where the ancient river had doubtless flowed 
through the town into the mountains. 

Our field glasses showed the external, horizontal bands of nearly effaced 
sculptures and dot groups to be very prevalent, and we could half imagine what 
the city must once have looked like - even though most of the roofs and tower 
tops had necessarily perished. As a whole, it had been a complex tangle of 
twisted lanes and alleys, all of them deep canyons, and some little better than 
tunnels because of the overhanging masonry or overarching bridges. Now, 
outspread below us, it loomed like a dream fantasy against a westward mist 
through whose northern end the low, reddish antarctic sun of early afternoon 
was struggling to shine; and when, for a moment, that sun encountered a denser 
obstruction and plunged the scene into temporary shadow, the effect was subtly 
menacing in a way I can never hope to depict. Even the faint howling and piping 
of the unfelt wind in the great mountain passes behind us took on a wilder note 
of purposeful malignity. The last stage of our descent to the town was unusually 
steep and abrupt, and a rock outcropping at the edge where the grade changed 
led us to think that an artificial terrace had once existed there. Under the 
glaciation, we believed, there must be a flight of steps or its equivalent. 

When at last we plunged into the town itself, clambering over fallen masonry 
and shrinking from the oppressive nearness and dwarfing height of omnipresent 
crumbling and pitted walls, our sensations again became such that I marvel at 
the amount of self-control we retained. Danforth was frankly jumpy, and began 
making some offensively irrelevant speculations about the horror at the camp - 
which I resented all the more because I could not help sharing certain 
conclusions forced upon us by many features of this morbid survival from 
nightmare antiquity. The speculations worked on his imagination, too; for in one 
place - where a debris-littered alley turned a sharp corner - he insisted that he 
saw faint traces of ground markings which he did not like; whilst elsewhere he 



47 



stopped to listen to a subtle, imaginary sound from some undefined point - a 
muffled musical piping, he said, not unlike that of the wind in the mountain 
caves, yet somehow disturbingly different. The ceaseless five-pointedness of the 
surrounding architecture and of the few distinguishable mural arabesques had a 
dimly sinister suggestiveness we could not escape, and gave us a touch of 
terrible subconscious certainty concerning the primal entities which had reared 
and dwelt in this unhallowed place. 

Nevertheless, our scientific and adventurous souls were not wholly dead, and 
we mechanically carried out our program of chipping specimens from all the 
different rock types represented in the masonry. We wished a rather full set in 
order to draw better conclusions regarding the age of the place. Nothing in the 
great outer walls seemed to date from later than the Jurassic and Comanchian 
periods, nor was any piece of stone in the entire place of a greater recency than 
the Pliocene Age. In stark certainty, we were wandering amidst a death which 
had reigned at least five hundred thousand years, and in all probability even 
longer. 

As we proceeded through this maze of stone-shadowed twilight we stopped at 
all available apertures to study interiors and investigate entrance possibilities. 
Some were above our reach, whilst others led only into ice-choked ruins as 
unroofed and barren as the rampart on the hill. One, though spacious and 
inviting, opened on a seemingly bottomless abyss without visible means of 
descent. Now and then we had a chance to study the petrified wood of a 
surviving shutter, and were impressed by the fabulous antiquity implied in the 
still discernible grain. These things had come from Mesozoic gymnosperms and 
conifers - especially Cretaceous cycads - and from fan palms and early 
angiosperms of plainly Tertiary date. Nothing definitely later than the Pliocene 
could be discovered. In the placing of these shutters - whose edges showed the 
former presence of queer and long-vanished hinges - usage seemed to be varied - 
some being on the outer and some on the inner side of the deep embrasures. 
They seemed to have become wedged in place, thus surviving the rusting of their 
former and probably metallic fixtures and fastenings. 

After a time we came across a row of windows - in the bulges of a colossal five- 
edged cone of undamaged apex - which led into a vast, well-preserved room 
with stone flooring; but these were too high in the room to permit descent 
without a rope. We had a rope with us, but did not wish to bother with this 
twenty-foot drop unless obliged to-especially in this thin plateau air where great 
demands were made upon the heart action. This enormous room was probably a 
hall or concourse of some sort, and our electric torches showed bold, distinct, 
and potentially startling sculptures arranged round the walls in broad, 
horizontal bands separated by equally broad strips of conventional arabesques. 



48 



We took careful note of this spot, planning to enter here unless a more easily 
gained interior were encountered. 

Finally, though, we did encounter exactly the opening we wished; an archway 
about six feet wide and ten feet high, marking the former end of an aerial bridge 
which had spanned an alley about five feet above the present level of glaciation. 
These archways, of course, were flush with upper-story floors, and in this case 
one of the floors still existed. The building thus accessible was a series of 
rectangular terraces on our left facing westward. That across the alley, where the 
other archway yawned, was a decrepit cylinder with no windows and with a 
curious bulge about ten feet above the aperture. It was totally dark inside, and 
the archway seemed to open on a well of illimitable emptiness. 

Heaped debris made the entrance to the vast left-hand building doubly easy, yet 
for a moment we hesitated before taking advantage of the long-wished chance. 
For though we had penetrated into this tangle of archaic mystery, it required 
fresh resolution to carry us actually inside a complete and surviving building of a 
fabulous elder world whose nature was becoming more and more hideously 
plain to us. In the end, however, we made the plunge, and scrambled up over the 
rubble into the gaping embrasure. The floor beyond was of great slate slabs, and 
seemed to form the outlet of a long, high corridor with sculptured walls. 

Observing the many inner archways which led off from it, and realizing the 
probable complexity of the nest of apartments within, we decided that we must 
begin our system of hare-and-hound trail blazing. Hitherto our compasses, 
together with frequent glimpses of the vast mountain range between the towers 
in our rear, had been enough to prevent our losing our way; but from now on, 
the artificial substitute would be necessary. Accordingly we reduced our extra 
paper to shreds of suitable size, placed these in a bag to be carried by Danforth, 
and prepared to use them as economically as safety would allow. This method 
would probably gain us immunity from straying, since there did not appear to be 
any strong air currents inside the primordial masonry. If such should develop, or 
if our paper supply should give out, we could of course fall back on the more 
secure though more tedious and retarding method of rock chipping. 

Just how extensive a territory we had opened up, it was impossible to guess 
without a trial. The close and frequent connection of the different buildings made 
it likely that we might cross from one to another on bridges underneath the ice, 
except where impeded by local collapses and geologic rifts, for very little 
glaciation seemed to have entered the massive constructions. Almost all the areas 
of transparent ice had revealed the submerged windows as tightly shuttered, as 
if the town had been left in that uniform state until the glacial sheet came to 
crystallize the lower part for all succeeding time. Indeed, one gained a curious 



49 



impression that this place had been dehberately closed and deserted in some 
dim, bygone aeon, rather than overwhelmed by any sudden calamity or even 
gradual decay. Had the coming of the ice been foreseen, and had a nameless 
population left en masse to seek a less doomed abode? The precise physiographic 
conditions attending the formation of the ice sheet at this point would have to 
wait for later solution. It had not, very plainly, been a grinding drive. Perhaps 
the pressure of accumulated snows had been responsible, and perhaps some 
flood from the river, or from the bursting of some ancient glacial dam in the 
great range, had helped to create the special state now observable. Imagination 
could conceive almost anything in connection with this place. 

VI 

It would be cumbrous to give a detailed, consecutive account of our wanderings 
inside that cavernous, aeon-dead honeycomb of primal masonry - that 
monstrous lair of elder secrets which now echoed for the first time, after 
uncounted epochs, to the tread of human feet. This is especially true because so 
much of the horrible drama and revelation came from a mere study of the 
omnipresent mural carvings. Our flashlight photographs of those carvings will 
do much toward proving the truth of what we are now disclosing, and it is 
lamentable that we had not a larger film supply with us. As it was, we made 
crude notebook sketches of certain salient features after all our films were used 
up. 

The building which we had entered was one of great size and elaborateness, and 
gave us an impressive notion of the architecture of that nameless geologic past. 
The inner partitions were less massive than the outer walls, but on the lower 
levels were excellently preserved. Labyrinthine complexity, involving curiously 
irregular difference in floor levels, characterized the entire arrangement; and we 
should certainly have been lost at the very outset but for the trail of torn paper 
left behind us. We decided to explore the more decrepit upper parts first of all, 
hence climbed aloft in the maze for a distance of some one hundred feet, to 
where the topmost tier of chambers yawned snowily and ruinously open to the 
polar sky. Ascent was effected over the steep, transversely ribbed stone ramps or 
inclined planes which everywhere served in lieu of stairs. The rooms we 
encountered were of all imaginable shapes and proportions, ranging from five- 
pointed stars to triangles and perfect cubes. It might be safe to say that their 
general average was about 30 x 30 feet in floor area, and 20 feet in height, though 
many larger apartments existed. After thoroughly examining the upper regions 
and the glacial level, we descended, story by story, into the submerged part, 
where indeed we soon saw we were in a continuous maze of connected 
chambers and passages probably leading over unlimited areas outside this 
particular building. The Cyclopean massiveness and gigantism of everything 



50 



about us became curiously oppressive; and there was something vaguely but 
deeply unhuman in all the contours, dimensions, proportions, decorations, and 
constructional nuances of the blasphemously archaic stonework. We soon 
realized, from what the carvings revealed, that this monstrous city was many 
million years old. 

We cannot yet explain the engineering principles used in the anomalous 
balancing and adjustment of the vast rock masses, though the function of the 
arch was clearly much relied on. The rooms we visited were wholly bare of all 
portable contents, a circumstance which sustained our belief in the city's 
deliberate desertion. The prime decorative feature was the almost universal 
system of mural sculpture, which tended to run in continuous horizontal bands 
three feet wide and arranged from floor to ceiling in alternation with bands of 
equal width given over to geometrical arabesques. There were exceptions to this 
rule of arrangement, but its preponderance was overwhelming. Often, however, 
a series of smooth car-touches containing oddly patterned groups of dots would 
be sunk along one of the arabesque bands. 

The technique, we soon saw, was mature, accomplished, and aesthetically 
evolved to the highest degree of civilized mastery, though utterly alien in every 
detail to any known art tradition of the human race. In delicacy of execution no 
sculpture I have ever seen could approach it. The minutest details of elaborate 
vegetation, or of animal life, were rendered with astonishing vividness despite 
the bold scale of the carvings; whilst the conventional designs were marvels of 
skillful intricacy. The arabesques displayed a profound use of mathematical 
principles, and were made up of obscurely symmetrical curves and angles based 
on the quantity of five. The pictorial bands followed a highly formalized 
tradition, and involved a peculiar treatment of perspective, but had an artistic 
force that moved us profoundly, notwithstanding the intervening gulf of vast 
geologic periods. Their method of design hinged on a singular juxtaposition of 
the cross section with the two-dimensional silhouette, and embodied an 
analytical psychology beyond that of any known race of antiquity. It is useless to 
try to compare this art with any represented in our museums. Those who see our 
photographs will probably find its closest analogue in certain grotesque 
conceptions of the most daring futurists. 

The arabesque tracery consisted altogether of depressed lines, whose depth on 
unweathered walls varied from one to two inches. When cartouches with dot 
groups appeared - evidently as inscriptions in some unknown and primordial 
language and alphabet - the depression of the smooth surface was perhaps an 
inch and a half, and of the dots perhaps a half inch more. The pictorial bands 
were in countersunk low relief, their background being depressed about two 
inches from the original wall surface. In some specimens marks of a former 



51 



coloration could be detected, though for the most part the untold aeons had 
disintegrated and banished any pigments which may have been applied. The 
more one studied the marvelous technique, the more one admired the things. 
Beneath their strict conventionalization one could grasp the minute and accurate 
observation and graphic skill of the artists; and indeed, the very conventions 
themselves served to symbolize and accentuate the real essence or vital 
differentiation of every object delineated. We felt, too, that besides these 
recognizable excellences there were others lurking beyond the reach of our 
perceptions. Certain touches here and there gave vague hints of latent symbols 
and stimuli which another mental and emotional background, and a fuller or 
different sensory equipment, might have made of profound and poignant 
significance to us. 

The subject matter of the sculptures obviously came from the life of the vanished 
epoch of their creation, and contained a large proportion of evident history. It is 
this abnormal historic-mindedness of the primal race - a chance circumstance 
operating, through coincidence, miraculously in our favor - which made the 
carvings so awesomely informative to us, and which caused us to place their 
photography and transcription above all other considerations. In certain rooms 
the dominant arrangement was varied by the presence of maps, astronomical 
charts, and other scientific designs of an enlarged scale - these things giving a 
naive and terrible corroboration to what we gathered from the pictorial friezes 
and dadoes. In hinting at what the whole revealed, I can only hope that my 
account will not arouse a curiosity greater than sane caution on the part of those 
who believe me at all. It would be tragic if any were to be allured to that realm of 
death and horror by the very warning meant to discourage them. 

Interrupting these sculptured walls were high windows and massive twelve-foot 
doorways; both now and then retaining the petrified wooden planks - 
elaborately carved and polished-of the actual shutters and doors. All metal 
fixtures had long ago vanished, but some of the doors remained in place and had 
to be forced aside as we progressed from room to room. Window frames with 
odd transparent panes - mostly elliptical - survived here and there, though in no 
considerable quantity. There were also frequent niches of great magnitude, 
generally empty, but once in a while containing some bizarre object carved from 
green soapstone which was either broken or perhaps held too inferior to warrant 
removal. Other apertures were undoubtedly connected with bygone mechanical 
facilities - heating, lighting, and the like-of a sort suggested in many of the 
carvings. Ceilings tended to be plain, but had sometimes been inlaid with green 
soapstone or other tiles, mostly fallen now. Floors were also paved with such 
tiles, though plain stonework predominated. 



52 



As I have said, all furniture and other movables were absent; but the sculptures 
gave a clear idea of the strange devices which had once filled these tomblike, 
echoing rooms. Above the glacial sheet the floors were generally thick with 
detritus, litter, and debris, but farther down this condition decreased. In some of 
the lower chambers and corridors there was little more than gritty dust or 
ancient incrustations, while occasional areas had an uncanny air of newly swept 
immaculateness. Of course, where rifts or collapses had occurred, the lower 
levels were as littered as the upper ones. A central court - as in other structures 
we had seen from the air - saved the inner regions from total darkness; so that we 
seldom had to use our electric torches in the upper rooms except when studying 
sculptured details. Below the ice cap, however, the twilight deepened; and in 
many parts of the tangled ground level there was an approach to absolute 
blackness. 

To form even a rudimentary idea of our thoughts and feelings as we penetrated 
this aeon-silent maze of unhuman masonry, one must correlate a hopelessly 
bewildering chaos of fugitive moods, memories, and impressions. The sheer 
appalling antiquity and lethal desolation of the place were enough to overwhelm 
almost any sensitive person, but added to these elements were the recent 
unexplained horror at the camp, and the revelations all too soon effected by the 
terrible mural sculptures around us. The moment we came upon a perfect section 
of carving, where no ambiguity of interpretation could exist, it took only a brief 
study to give us the hideous truth - a truth which it would be naive to claim 
Danforth and I had not independently suspected before, though we had carefully 
refrained from even hinting it to each other. There could now be no further 
merciful doubt about the nature of the beings which had built and inhabited this 
monstrous dead city millions of years ago, when man's ancestors were primitive 
archaic mammals, and vast dinosaurs roamed the tropical steppes of Europe and 
Asia. 

We had previously clung to a desperate alternative and insisted - each to himself 
- that the omnipresence of the five-pointed motifs meant only some cultural or 
religious exaltation of the Archaean natural object which had so patently 
embodied the quality of five-pointedness; as the decorative motifs of Minoan 
Crete exalted the sacred bull, those of Egypt the scarabaeus, those of Rome the 
wolf and the eagle, and those of various savage tribes some chosen totem animal. 
But this lone refuge was now stripped from us, and we were forced to face 
definitely the reason-shaking realization which the reader of these pages has 
doubtless long ago anticipated. I can scarcely bear to write it down in black and 
white even now, but perhaps that will not be necessary. 

The things once rearing and dwelling in this frightful masonry in the age of 
dinosaurs were not indeed dinosaurs, but far worse. Mere dinosaurs were new 



53 



and almost brainless objects - but the builders of the city were wise and old, and 
had left certain traces in rocks even then laid down well nigh a thousand million 
years - rocks laid down before the true life of earth had advanced beyond plastic 
groups of cells - rocks laid down before the true life of earth had existed at all. 
They were the makers and enslavers of that life, and above all doubt the originals 
of the fiendish elder myths which things like the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the 
Necronomicon affrightedly hint about. They were the great "Old Ones" that had 
filtered down from the stars when earth was young - the beings whose substance 
an alien evolution had shaped, and whose powers were such as this planet had 
never bred. And to think that only the day before Danforth and I had actually 
looked upon fragments of their millennially fossilized substance - and that poor 
Lake and his party had seen their complete outlines - It is of course impossible 
for me to relate in proper order the stages by which we picked up what we know 
of that monstrous chapter of prehuman life. After the first shock of the certain 
revelation, we had to pause a while to recuperate, and it was fully three o'clock 
before we got started on our actual tour of systematic research. The sculptures in 
the building we entered were of relatively late date - perhaps two million years 
ago-as checked up by geological, biological, and astronomical features - and 
embodied an art which would be called decadent in comparison with that of 
specimens we found in older buildings after crossing bridges under the glacial 
sheet. One edifice hewn from the solid rock seemed to go back forty or possibly 
even fifty million years - to the lower Eocene or upper Cretaceous - and 
contained bas-reliefs of an artistry surpassing anything else, with one 
tremendous exception, that we encountered. That was, we have since agreed, the 
oldest domestic structure we traversed. 

Were it not for the support of those flashlights soon to be made public, I would 
refrain from telling what I found and inferred, lest I be confined as a madman. Of 
course, the infinitely early parts of the patchwork tale - representing the 
preterrestrial life of the star-headed beings on other planets, in other galaxies, 
and in other universes - can readily be interpreted as the fantastic mythology of 
those beings themselves; yet such parts sometimes involved designs and 
diagrams so uncannily close to the latest findings of mathematics and 
astrophysics that I scarcely know what to think. Let others judge when they see 
the photographs I shall publish. 

Naturally, no one set of carvings which we encountered told more than a fraction 
of any connected story, nor did we even begin to come upon the various stages 
of that story in their proper order. Some of the vast rooms were independent 
units so far as their designs were concerned, whilst in other cases a continuous 
chronicle would be carried through a series of rooms and corridors. The best of 
the maps and diagrams were on the walls of a frightful abyss below even the 
ancient ground level - a cavern perhaps two hundred feet square and sixty feet 



54 



high, which had almost undoubtedly been an educational center of some sort. 
There were many provoking repetitions of the same material in different rooms 
and buildings, since certain chapters of experience, and certain summaries or 
phases of racial history, had evidently been favorites with different decorators or 
dwellers. Sometimes, though, variant versions of the same theme proved useful 
in settling debatable points and filling up gaps. 

I still wonder that we deduced so much in the short time at our disposal. Of 
course, we even now have only the barest outline - and much of that was 
obtained later on from a study of the photographs and sketches we made. It may 
be the effect of this later study - the revived memories and vague impressions 
acting in conjunction with his general sensitiveness and with that final supposed 
horror-glimpse whose essence he will not reveal even to me - which has been the 
immediate source of Danforth's present breakdown. But it had to be; for we 
could not issue our warning intelligently without the fullest possible 
information, and the issuance of that warning is a prime necessity. Certain 
lingering influences in that unknown antarctic world of disordered time and 
alien natural law make it imperative that further exploration be discouraged. 

VII 

The full story, so far as deciphered, will eventually appear in an official bulletin 
of Miskatonic University. Here I shall sketch only the salient highlights in a 
formless, rambling way. Myth or otherwise, the sculptures told of the coming of 
those star-headed things to the nascent, lifeless earth out of cosmic space - their 
coming, and the coming of many other alien entities such as at certain times 
embark upon spatial pioneering. They seemed able to traverse the interstellar 
ether on their vast membranous wings - thus oddly confirming some curious hill 
folklore long ago told me by an antiquarian colleague. They had lived under the 
sea a good deal, building fantastic cities and fighting terrific battles with 
nameless adversaries by means of intricate devices employing unknown 
principles of energy. Evidently their scientific and mechanical knowledge far 
surpassed man's today, though they made use of its more widespread and 
elaborate forms only when obliged to. Some of the sculptures suggested that they 
had passed through a stage of mechanized life on other planets, but had receded 
upon finding its effects emotionally unsatisfying. Their preternatural toughness 
of organization and simplicity of natural wants made them peculiarly able to live 
on a high plane without the more specialized fruits of artificial manufacture, and 
even without garments, except for occasional protection against the elements. 

It was under the sea, at first for food and later for other purposes, that they first 
created earth life - using available substances according to long-known methods. 
The more elaborate experiments came after the annihilation of various cosmic 



55 



enemies. They had done the same thing on other planets, having manufactured 
not only necessary foods, but certain multicellular protoplasmic masses capable 
of molding their tissues into all sorts of temporary organs under hypnotic 
influence and thereby forming ideal slaves to perform the heavy work of the 
community. These viscous masses were without doubt what Abdul Alhazred 
whispered about as the "Shoggoths" in his frightful Necronomicon, though even 
that mad Arab had not hinted that any existed on earth except in the dreams of 
those who had chewed a certain alkaloidal herb. When the star-headed Old Ones 
on this planet had synthesized their simple food forms and bred a good supply 
of Shoggoths, they allowed other cell groups to develop into other forms of 
animal and vegetable life for sundry purposes, extirpating any whose presence 
became troublesome. 

With the aid of the Shoggoths, whose expansions could be made to lift 
prodigious weights, the small, low cities under the sea grew to vast and 
imposing labyrinths of stone not unlike those which later rose on land. Indeed, 
the highly adaptable Old Ones had lived much on land in other parts of the 
universe, and probably retained many traditions of land construction. As we 
studied the architecture of all these sculptured palaeogean cities, including that 
whose aeon-dead corridors we were even then traversing, we were impressed by 
a curious coincidence which we have not yet tried to explain, even to ourselves. 
The tops of the buildings, which in the actual city around us had, of course, been 
weathered into shapeless ruins ages ago, were clearly displayed in the bas- 
reliefs, and showed vast clusters of needle-like spires, delicate finials on certain 
cone and pyramid apexes, and tiers of thin, horizontal scalloped disks capping 
cylindrical shafts. This was exactly what we had seen in that monstrous and 
portentous mirage, cast by a dead city whence such skyline features had been 
absent for thousands and tens of thousands of years, which loomed on our 
ignorant eyes across the unfathomed mountains of madness as we first 
approached poor Lake's ill-fated camp. 

Of the life of the Old Ones, both under the sea and after part of them migrated to 
land, volumes could be written. Those in shallow water had continued the fullest 
use of the eyes at the ends of their five main head tentacles, and had practiced 
the arts of sculpture and of writing in quite the usual way - the writing 
accomplished with a stylus on waterproof waxen surfaces. Those lower down in 
the ocean depths, though they used a curious phosphorescent organism to 
furnish light, pieced out their vision with obscure special senses operating 
through the prismatic cilia on their heads - senses which rendered all the Old 
Ones partly independent of light in emergencies. Their forms of sculpture and 
writing had changed curiously during the descent, embodying certain 
apparently chemical coating processes - probably to secure phosphorescence - 
which the basreliefs could not make clear to us. The beings moved in the sea 



56 



partly by swimming - using the lateral crinoid arms - and partly by wriggling 
with the lower tier of tentacles containing the pseudofeet. Occasionally they 
accomplished long swoops with the auxiliary use of two or more sets of their 
fanlike folding wings. On land they locally used the pseudofeet, but now and 
then flew to great heights or over long distances with their wings. The many 
slender tentacles into which the crinoid arms branched were infinitely delicate, 
flexible, strong, and accurate in muscular-nervous coordination - ensuring the 
utmost skill and dexterity in all artistic and other manual operations. 

The toughness of the things was almost incredible. Even the terrific pressure of 
the deepest sea bottoms appeared powerless to harm them. Very few seemed to 
die at all except by violence, and their burial places were very limited. The fact 
that they covered their vertically inhumed dead with five-pointed inscribed 
mounds set up thoughts in Danforth and me which made a fresh pause and 
recuperation necessary after the sculptures revealed it. The beings multiplied by 
means of spores - like vegetable pteridophytes, as Lake had suspected - but, 
owing to their prodigious toughness and longevity, and consequent lack of 
replacement needs, they did not encourage the large-scale development of new 
prothallia except when they had new regions to colonize. The young matured 
swiftly, and received an education evidently beyond any standard we can 
imagine. The prevailing intellectual and aesthetic life was highly evolved, and 
produced a tenaciously enduring set of customs and institutions which I shall 
describe more fully in my coming monograph. These varied slightly according to 
sea or land residence, but had the same foundations and essentials. 

Though able, like vegetables, to derive nourishment from inorganic substances, 
they vastly preferred organic and especially animal food. They ate uncooked 
marine life under the sea, but cooked their viands on land. They hunted game 
and raised meat herds - slaughtering with sharp weapons whose odd marks on 
certain fossil bones our expedition had noted. They resisted all ordinary 
temperatures marvelously, and in their natural state could live in water down to 
freezing. When the great chill of the Pleistocene drew on, however - nearly a 
million years ago-the land dwellers had to resort to special measures, including 
artificial heating - until at last the deadly cold appears to have driven them back 
into the sea. For their prehistoric flights through cosmic space, legend said, they 
absorbed certain chemicals and became almost independent of eating, breathing, 
or heat conditions - but by the time of the great cold they had lost track of the 
method. In any case they could not have prolonged the artificial state indefinitely 
without harm. 

Being nonpairing and semivegetable in structure, the Old Ones had no biological 
basis for the family phase of mammal life, but seemed to organize large 
households on the principles of comfortable space- utility and - as we deduced 



bl 



from the pictured occupations and diversions of co-dwellers - congenial mental 
association. In furnishing their homes they kept everything in the center of the 
huge rooms, leaving all the wall spaces free for decorative treatment. Lighting, in 
the case of the land inhabitants, was accomplished by a device probably electro- 
chemical in nature. Both on land and under water they used curious tables, 
chairs and couches like cylindrical frames - for they rested and slept upright with 
folded- down tentacles - and racks for hinged sets of dotted surfaces forming 
their books. 

Government was evidently complex and probably socialistic, though no 
certainties in this regard could be deduced from the sculptures we saw. There 
was extensive commerce, both local and between different cities - certain small, 
flat counters, five-pointed and inscribed, serving as money. Probably the smaller 
of the various greenish soapstones found by our expedition were pieces of such 
currency. Though the culture was mainly urban, some agriculture and much 
stock raising existed. Mining and a limited amount of manufacturing were also 
practiced. Travel was very frequent, but permanent migration seemed relatively 
rare except for the vast colonizing movements by which the race expanded. For 
personal locomotion no external aid was used, since in land, air, and water 
movement alike the Old Ones seemed to possess excessively vast capacities for 
speed. Loads, however, were drawn by beasts of burden - Shoggoths under the 
sea, and a curious variety of primitive vertebrates in the later years of land 
existence. 

These vertebrates, as well as an infinity of other life forms - animal and 
vegetable, marine, terrestrial, and aerial - were the products of unguided 
evolution acting on life cells made by the Old Ones, but escaping beyond their 
radius of attention. They had been suffered to develop unchecked because they 
had not come in conflict with the dominant beings. Bothersome forms, of course, 
were mechanically exterminated. It interested us to see in some of the very last 
and most decadent sculptures a shambling, primitive mammal, used sometimes 
for food and sometimes as an amusing buffoon by the land dwellers, whose 
vaguely simian and human foreshadowings were unmistakable. In the building 
of land cities the huge stone blocks of the high towers were generally lifted by 
vast-winged pterodactyls of a species heretofore unknown to paleontology. 

The persistence with which the Old Ones survived various geologic changes and 
convulsions of the earth's crust was little short of miraculous. Though few or 
none of their first cities seem to have remained beyond the Archaean Age, there 
was no interruption in their civilization or in the transmission of their records. 
Their original place of advent to the planet was the Antarctic Ocean, and it is 
likely that they came not long after the matter forming the moon was wrenched 
from the neighboring South Pacific. According to one of the sculptured maps the 



58 



whole globe was then under water, with stone cities scattered farther and farther 
from the antarctic as aeons passed. Another map shows a vast bulk of dry land 
around the south pole, where it is evident that some of the beings made 
experimental settlements, though their main centers were transferred to the 
nearest sea bottom. Later maps, which display the land mass as cracking and 
drifting, and sending certain detached parts northward, uphold in a striking way 
the theories of continental drift lately advanced by Taylor, Wegener, and Joly. 

With the upheaval of new land in the South Pacific tremendous events began. 
Some of the marine cities were hopelessly shattered, yet that was not the worst 
misfortune. Another race - a land race of beings shaped like octopi and probably 
corresponding to fabulous prehuman spawn of Cthulhu - soon began filtering 
down from cosmic infinity and precipitated a -monstrous war which for a time 
drove the Old Ones wholly back to the sea - a colossal blow in view of the 
increasing land settlements. Later peace was made, and the new lands were 
given to the Cthulhu spawn whilst the Old Ones held the sea and the older 
lands. New land cities were founded - the greatest of them in the antarctic, for 
this region of first arrival was sacred. From then on, as before, the antarctic 
remained the center of the Old Ones' civilization, and all the cities built there by 
the Cthulhu spawn were blotted out. Then suddenly the lands of the Pacific sank 
again, taking with them the frightful stone city of R'lyeh and all the cosmic 
octopi, so that the Old Ones were again supreme on the planet except for one 
shadowy fear about which they did not like to speak. At a rather later age their 
cities dotted all the land and water areas of the globe - hence the 
recommendation in my coming monograph that some archaeologist make 
systematic borings with Pabodie's type of apparatus in certain widely separated 
regions. 

The steady trend down the ages was from water to land - a movement 
encouraged by the rise of new land masses, though the ocean was never wholly 
deserted. Another cause of the landward movement was the new difficulty in 
breeding and managing the Shoggoths upon which successful sea life depended. 
With the march of time, as the sculptures sadly confessed, the art of creating new 
life from inorganic matter had been lost, so that the Old Ones had to depend on 
the molding of forms already in existence. On land the great reptiles proved 
highly tractable; but the Shoggoths of the sea, reproducing by fission and 
acquiring a dangerous degree of accidental intelligence, presented for a time a 
formidable problem. 

They had always been controlled through the hypnotic suggestions of the Old 
Ones, and had modeled their tough plasticity into various useful temporary 
limbs and organs; but now their self-modeling powers were sometimes exercised 
independently, and in various imitative forms implanted by past suggestion. 



59 



They had, it seems, developed a semistable brain whose separate and 
occasionally stubborn volition echoed the will of the Old Ones without always 
obeying it. Sculptured images of these Shoggoths filled Danforth and me with 
horror and loathing. They were normally shapeless entities composed of a 
viscous jelly which looked like an agglutination of bubbles, and each averaged 
about fifteen feet in diameter when a sphere. They had, however, a constantly 
shifting shape and volume - throwing out temporary developments or forming 
apparent organs of sight, hearing, and speech in imitation of their masters, either 
spontaneously or according to suggestion. 

They seem to have become peculiarly intractable toward the middle of the 
Permian Age, perhaps one hundred and fifty million years ago, when a veritable 
war of resubjugation was waged upon them by the marine Old Ones. Pictures of 
this war, and of the headless, slime-coated fashion in which the Shoggoths 
typically left their slain victims, held a marvelously fearsome quality despite the 
intervening abyss of untold ages. The Old Ones had used curious weapons of 
molecular and atomic disturbances against the rebel entities, and in the end had 
achieved a complete victory. Thereafter the sculptures showed a period in which 
Shoggoths were tamed and broken by armed Old Ones as the wild horses of the 
American west were tamed by cowboys. Though during the rebellion the 
Shoggoths had shown an ability to live out of water, this transition was not 
encouraged - since their usefulness on land would hardly have been 
commensurate with the trouble of their management. 

During the Jurassic Age the Old Ones met fresh adversity in the form of a new 
invasion from outer space - this time by half-fungous, half-crustacean creatures - 
creatures undoubtedly the same as those figuring in certain whispered hill 
legends of the north, and remembered in the Himalayas as the Mi-Go, or 
abominable Snow Men. To fight these beings the Old Ones attempted, for the 
first time since their terrene advent, to sally forth again into the planetary ether; 
but, despite all traditional preparations, found it no longer possible to leave the 
earth's atmosphere. Whatever the old secret of interstellar travel had been, it was 
now definitely lost to the race. In the end the Mi-Go drove the Old Ones out of all 
the northern lands, though they were powerless to disturb those in the sea. Little 
by little the slow retreat of the elder race to their original antarctic habitat was 
beginning. 

It was curious to note from the pictured battles that both the Cthulhu spawn and 
the Mi-Go seem to have been composed of matter more widely different from 
that which we know than was the substance of the Old Ones. They were able to 
undergo transformations and reintegrations impossible for their adversaries, and 
seem therefore to have originally come from even remoter gulfs of the cosmic 
space. The Old Ones, but for their abnormal toughness and peculiar vital 



60 



properties, were strictly material, and must have had their absolute origin within 
the known space-time continuum - whereas the first sources of the other beings 
can only be guessed at with bated breath. All this, of course, assuming that the 
non-terrestrial linkages and the anomalies ascribed to the invading foes are not 
pure mythology. Conceivably, the Old Ones might have invented a cosmic 
framework to account for their occasional defeats, since historical interest and 
pride obviously formed their chief psychological element. It is significant that 
their annals failed to mention many advanced and potent races of beings whose 
mighty cultures and towering cities figure persistently in certain obscure 
legends. 

The changing state of the world through long geologic ages appeared with 
startling vividness in many of the sculptured maps and scenes. In certain cases 
existing science will require revision, while in other cases its bold deductions are 
magnificently confirmed. As I have said, the hypothesis of Taylor, Wegener, and 
Joly that all the continents are fragments of an original antarctic land mass which 
cracked from centrifugal force and drifted apart over a technically viscous lower 
surface - an hypothesis suggested by such things as the complementary outlines 
of Africa and South America, and the way the great mountain chains are rolled 
and shoved up - receives striking support from this uncanny source. 

Maps evidently showing the Carboniferous world of an hundred million or more 
years ago displayed significant rifts and chasms destined later to separate Africa 
from the once continuous realms of Europe (then the Valusia of primal legend), 
Asia, the Americas, and the antarctic continent. Other charts - and most 
significantly one in connection with the founding fifty million years ago of the 
vast dead city around us - showed all the present continents well differentiated. 
And in the latest discoverable specimen - dating perhaps from the Pliocene Age - 
the approximate world of today appeared quite clearly despite the linkage of 
Alaska with Siberia, of North America with Europe through Greenland, and of 
South America with the antarctic continent through Graham Land. In the 
Carboniferous map the whole globe-ocean floor and rifted land mass alike - bore 
symbols of the Old Ones' vast stone cities, but in the later charts the gradual 
recession toward the antarctic became very plain. The final Pliocene specimen 
showed no land cities except on the antarctic continent and the tip of South 
America, nor any ocean cities north of the fiftieth parallel of South Latitude. 
Knowledge and interest in the northern world, save for a study of coast lines 
probably made during long exploration flights on those fanlike membranous 
wings, had evidently declined to zero among the Old Ones. 

Destruction of cities through the upthrust of mountains, the centrifugal rending 
of continents, the seismic convulsions of land or sea bottom, and other natural 
causes, was a matter of common record; and it was curious to observe how fewer 



61 



and fewer replacements were made as the ages wore on. The vast dead 
megalopoHs that yawned around us seemed to be the last general center of the 
race - built early in the Cretaceous Age after a titanic earth buckling had 
obliterated a still vaster predecessor not far distant. It appeared that this general 
region was the most sacred spot of all, where reputedly the first Old Ones had 
settled on a primal sea bottom. In the new city - many of whose features we 
could recognize in the sculptures, but which stretched fully a hundred miles 
along the mountain range in each direction beyond the farthest limits of our 
aerial survey - there were reputed to be preserved certain sacred stones forming 
part of the first sea-bottom city, which thrust up to light after long epochs in the 
course of the general crumbling of strata. 

VIII 

Naturally, Danforth and I studied with especial interest and a peculiarly 
personal sense of awe everything pertaining to the immediate district in which 
we were. Of this local material there was naturally a vast abundance; and on the 
tangled ground level of the city we were lucky enough to find a house of very 
late date whose walls, though somewhat damaged by a neighboring rift, 
contained sculptures of decadent workmanship carrying the story of the region 
much beyond the period of the Pliocene map whence we derived our last general 
glimpse of the prehuman world. This was the last place we examined in detail, 
since what we found there gave us a fresh immediate objective. 

Certainly, we were in one of the strangest, weirdest, and most terrible of all the 
corners of earth's globe. Of all existing lands, it was infinitely the most ancient. 
The conviction grew upon us that this hideous upland must indeed be the fabled 
nightmare plateau of Leng which even the mad author of the Necronomicon was 
reluctant to discuss. The great mountain chain was tremendously long - starting 
as a low range at Luitpold Land on the east coast of Weddell Sea and virtually 
crossing the entire continent. That really high part stretched in a mighty arc from 
about Latitude 82°, E. Longitude 60° to Latitude 70°, E. Longitude 115°, with its 
concave side toward our camp and its seaward end in the region of that long, ice- 
locked coast whose hills were glimpsed by Wilkes and Mawson at the antarctic 
circle. 

Yet even more monstrous exaggerations of nature seemed disturbingly close at 
hand. I have said that these peaks are higher than the Himalayas, but the 
sculptures forbid me to say that they are earth's highest. That grim honor is 
beyond doubt reserved for something which half the sculptures hesitated to 
record at all, whilst others approached it with obvious repugnance and 
trepidation. It seems that there was one part of the ancient land - the first part 
that ever rose from the waters after the earth had flung off the moon and the Old 



62 



Ones had seeped down, from the stars - which had come to be shunned as 
vaguely and namelessly evil. Cities built there had crumbled before their time, 
and had been found suddenly deserted. Then when the first great earth buckling 
had convulsed the region in the Comanchian Age, a frightful line of peaks had 
shot suddenly up amidst the most appalling din and chaos - and earth had 
received her loftiest and most terrible mountains. 

If the scale of the carvings was correct, these abhorred things must have been 
much over forty thousand feet high - radically vaster than even the shocking 
mountains of madness we had crossed. They extended, it appeared, from about 
Latitude 77°, E. Longitude 70° to Latitude 70°, E. Longitude 100° - less than three 
hundred miles away from the dead city, so that we would have spied their 
dreaded summits in the dim western distance had it not been for that vague, 
opalescent haze. Their northern end must likewise be visible from the long 
antarctic circle coast line at Queen Mary Land. 

Some of the Old Ones, in the decadent days, had made strange prayers to those 
mountains - but none ever went near them or dared to guess what lay beyond. 
No human eye had ever seen them, and as I studied the emotions conveyed in 
the carvings, I prayed that none ever might. There are protecting hills along the 
coast beyond them - Queen Mary and Kaiser Wilhelm Lands - and I thank 
Heaven no one has been able to land and climb those hills. I am not as sceptical 
about old tales and fears as I used to be, and I do not laugh now at the prehuman 
sculptor's notion that lightning paused meaningfully now and then at each of the 
brooding crests, and that an unexplained glow shone from one of those terrible 
pinnacles all through the long polar night. There may be a very real and very 
monstrous meaning in the old Pnakotic whispers about Kadath in the Cold 
Waste. 

But the terrain close at hand was hardly less strange, even if less namelessly 
accursed. Soon after the founding of the city the great mountain range became 
the seat of the principal temples, and many carvings showed what grotesque and 
fantastic towers had pierced the sky where now we saw only the curiously 
clinging cubes and ramparts. In the course of ages the caves had appeared, and 
had been shaped into adjuncts of the temples. With the advance of still later 
epochs, all the limestone veins of the region were hollowed out by ground 
waters, so that the mountains, the foothills, and the plains below them were a 
veritable network of connected caverns and galleries. Many graphic sculptures 
told of explorations deep underground, and of the final discovery of the Stygian 
sunless sea that lurked at earth's bowels. 

This vast nighted gulf had undoubtedly been worn by the great river which 
flowed down from the nameless and horrible westward mountains, and which 



63 



had formerly turned at the base of the Old Ones' range and flowed beside that 
chain into the Indian Ocean between Budd and Totten Lands on Wilkes's coast 
line. Little by little it had eaten away the limestone hill base at its turning, till at 
last its sapping currents reached the caverns of the ground waters and joined 
with them in digging a deeper abyss. Finally its whole bulk emptied into the 
hollow hills and left the old bed toward the ocean dry. Much of the later city as 
we now found it had been built over that former bed. The Old Ones, 
understanding what had happened, and exercising their always keen artistic 
sense, had carved into ornate pylons those headlands of the foothills where the 
great stream began its descent into eternal darkness. 

This river, once crossed by scores of noble stone bridges, was plainly the one 
whose extinct course we had seen in our aeroplane survey. Its position in 
different carvings of the city helped us to orient ourselves to the scene as it had 
been at various stages of the region's age-long, aeon-dead history, so that we 
were able to sketch a hasty but careful map of the salient features - squares, 
important buildings, and the like - for guidance in further explorations. We could 
soon reconstruct in fancy the whole stupendous thing as it was a million or ten 
million or fifty million years ago, for the sculptures told us exactly what the 
buildings and mountains and squares and suburbs and landscape setting and 
luxuriant Tertiary vegetation had looked like. It must have had a marvelous and 
mystic beauty, and as I thought of it, I almost forgot the clammy sense of sinister 
oppression with which the city's inhuman age and massiveness and deadness 
and remoteness and glacial twilight had choked and weighed on my spirit. Yet 
according to certain carvings, the denizens of that city had themselves known the 
clutch of oppressive terror; for there was a somber and recurrent type of scene in 
which the Old Ones were shown in the act of recoiling affrightedly from some 
object - never allowed to appear in the design - found in the great river and 
indicated as having been washed down through waving, vine-draped cycad 
forests from those horrible westward mountains. 

It was only in the one late-built house with the decadent carvings that we 
obtained any foreshadowing of the final calamity leading to the city's desertion. 
Undoubtedly there must have been many sculptures of the same age elsewhere, 
even allowing for the slackened energies and aspirations of a stressful and 
uncertain period; indeed, very certain evidence of the existence of others came to 
us shortly afterward. But this was the first and only set we directly encountered. 
We meant to look farther later on; but as I have said, immediate conditions 
dictated another present objective. There would, though, have been a limit - for 
after all hope of a long future occupancy of the place had perished among the 
Old Ones, there could not but have been a complete cessation of mural 
decoration. The ultimate blow, of course, was the coming of the great cold which 
once held most of the earth in thrall, and which has never departed from the ill- 



64 



fated poles - the great cold that, at the world's other extremity, put an end to the 
fabled lands of Lomar and Hyperborea. 

Just when this tendency began in the antarctic, it would be hard to say in terms 
of exact years. Nowadays we set the beginning of the general glacial periods at a 
distance of about five hundred thousand years from the present, but at the poles 
the terrible scourge must have commenced much earlier. All quantitative 
estimates are partly guesswork, but it is quite likely that the decadent sculptures 
were made considerably less than a million years ago, and that the actual 
desertion of the city was complete long before the conventional opening of the 
Pleistocene - five hundred thousand years ago - as reckoned in terms of the 
earth's whole surface. 

In the decadent sculptures there were signs of thinner vegetation everywhere, 
and of a decreased country life on the part of the Old Ones. Heating devices were 
shown in the houses, and winter travelers were represented as muffled in 
protective fabrics. Then we saw a series of cartouches - the continuous band 
arrangement being frequently interrupted in these late carvings - depicting a 
constantly growing migration to the nearest refuges of greater warmth - some 
fleeing to cities under the sea off the far-away coast, and some clambering down 
through networks of limestone caverns in the hollow hills to the neighboring 
black abyss of subterrene waters. 

In the end it seems to have been the neighboring abyss which received the 
greatest colonization. This was partly due, no doubt, to the traditional sacredness 
of this special region, but may have been more conclusively determined by the 
opportunities it gave for continuing the use of the great temples on the 
honeycombed mountains, and for retaining the vast land city as a place of 
summer residence and base of communication with various mines. The linkage 
of old and new abodes was made more effective by means of several gradings 
and improvements along the connecting routes, including the chiseling of 
numerous direct tunnels from the ancient metropolis to the black abyss - sharply 
down-pointing tunnels whose mouths we carefully drew, according to our most 
thoughtful estimates, on the guide map we were compiling. It was obvious that 
at least two of these tunnels lay within a reasonable exploring distance of where 
we were - both being on the mountainward edge of the city, one less than a 
quarter of a mile toward the ancient river course, and the other perhaps twice 
that distance in the opposite direction. 

The abyss, it seems, had shelving shores of dry land at certain places, but the Old 
Ones built their new city under water - no doubt because of its greater certainty 
of uniform warmth. The depth of the hidden sea appears to have been very great, 
so that the earth's internal heat could ensure its habitability for an indefinite 



65 



period. The beings seemed to have had no trouble in adapting themselves to 
part-time - and eventually, of course, whole-time - residence under water, since 
they had never allowed their gill systems to atrophy. There were many 
sculptures which showed how they had always frequently visited their 
submarine kinsfolk elsewhere, and how they had habitually bathed on the deep 
bottom of their great river. The darkness of inner earth could likewise have been 
no deterrent to a race accustomed to long antarctic nights. 

Decadent though their style undoubtedly was, these latest carvings had a truly 
epic quality where they told of the building of the new city in the cavern sea. The 
Old Ones had gone about it scientifically - quarrying insoluble rocks from the 
heart of the honeycombed mountains, and employing expert workers from the 
nearest submarine city to perform the construction according to the best 
methods. These workers brought with them all that was necessary to establish 
the new venture - Shoggoth tissue from which to breed stone lifters and 
subsequent beasts of burden for the cavern city, and other protoplasmic matter to 
mold into phosphorescent organisms for lighting purposes. 

At last a mighty metropolis rose on the bottom of that Stygian sea, its 
architecture much like that of the city above, and its workmanship displaying 
relatively little decadence because of the precise mathematical element inherent 
in building operations. The newly bred Shoggoths grew to enormous size and 
singular intelligence, and were represented as taking and executing orders with 
marvelous quickness. They seemed to converse with the Old Ones by mimicking 
their voices - a sort of musical piping over a wide range, if poor Lake's dissection 
had indicated aright - and to work more from spoken commands than from 
hypnotic suggestions as in earlier times. They were, however, kept in admirable 
control. The phosphorescent organisms supplied light With vast effectiveness, 
and doubtless atoned for the loss of the familiar polar auroras of the outer-world 
night. 

Art and decoration were pursued, though of course with a certain decadence. 
The Old Ones seemed to realize this falling off themselves, and in many cases 
anticipated the policy of Constantine the Great by transplanting especially fine 
blocks of ancient carving from their land city, just as the emperor, in a similar age 
of decline, stripped Greece and Asia of their finest art to give his new Byzantine 
capital greater splendors than its own people could create. That the transfer of 
sculptured blocks had not been more extensive was doubtless owing to the fact 
that the land city was not at first wholly abandoned. By the time total 
abandonment did occur - and it surely must have occurred before the polar 
Pleistocene was far advanced - the Old Ones had perhaps become satisfied with 
their decadent art - or had ceased to recognize the superior merit of the older 
carvings. At any rate, the aeon-silent ruins around us had certainly undergone no 



66 



wholesale sculptural denudation, though all the best separate statues, like other 
movables, had been taken away. 

The decadent cartouches and dadoes telling this story were, as I have said, the 
latest we could find in our limited search. They left us with a picture of the Old 
Ones shuttling back and forth betwixt the land city in summer and the sea- 
cavern city in winter, and sometimes trading with the sea-bottom cities off the 
antarctic coast. By this time the ultimate doom of the land city must have been 
recognized, for the sculptures showed many signs of the cold's malign 
encroachments. Vegetation was declining, and the terrible snows of the winter 
no longer melted completely even in midsummer. The saunan livestock were 
nearly all dead, and the mammals were standing it none too well. To keep on 
with the work of the upper world it had become necessary to adapt some of the 
amorphous and curiously cold-resistant Shoggoths to land life - a thing the Old 
Ones had formerly been reluctant to do. The great river was now lifeless, and the 
upper sea had lost most of its denizens except the seals and whales. All the birds 
had flown away, save only the great, grotesque penguins. 

What had happened afterward we could only guess. How long had the new sea- 
cavern city survived? Was it still down there, a stony corpse in eternal blackness? 
Had the subterranean waters frozen at last? To what fate had the ocean-bottom 
cities of the outer world been delivered? Had any of the Old Ones shifted north 
ahead of the creeping ice cap? Existing geology shows no trace of their presence. 
Had the frightful Mi-Go been still a menace in the outer land world of the north? 
Could one be sure of what might or might not linger, even to this day, in the 
lightless and unplumbed abysses of earth's deepest waters? Those things had 
seemingly been able to withstand any amount of pressure - and men of the sea 
have fished up curious objects at times. And has the killer-whale theory really 
explained the savage and mysterious scars on antarctic seals noticed a generation 
ago by Borchgrevingk? 

The specimens found by poor Lake did not enter into these guesses, for their 
geologic setting proved them to have lived at what must have been a very early 
date in the land city's history. They were, according to their location, certainly 
not less than thirty million years old, and we reflected that in their day the sea- 
cavern city, and indeed the cavern itself, had had no existence. They would have 
remembered an older scene, with lush Tertiary vegetation everywhere, a 
younger land city of flourishing arts around them, and a great river sweeping 
northward along the base of the mighty mountains toward a far-away tropic 
ocean. 

And yet we could not help thinking about these specimens - especially about the 
eight perfect ones that were missing from Lake's hideously ravaged camp. There 



67 



was something abnormal about that whole business - the strange things we had 
tried so hard to lay to somebody's madness - those frightful graves - the amount 
and nature of the missing material - Gedney - the unearthly toughness of those 
archaic monstrosities, and the queer vital freaks the sculptures now showed the 
race to have - Danforth and I had seen a good deal in the last few hours, and 
were prepared to believe and keep silent about many appalling and incredible 
secrets of primal nature. 

IX 

I have said that our study of the decadent sculptures brought about a change in 
our immediate objective. This, of course, had to do with the chiseled avenues to 
the black inner world, of whose existence we had not known before, but which 
we were now eager to find and traverse. From the evident scale of the carvings 
we deduced that a steeply descending walk of about a mile through either of the 
neighboring tunnels would bring us to the brink of the dizzy, sunless cliffs about 
the great abyss; down whose sides paths, improved by the Old Ones, led to the 
rocky shore of the hidden and nighted ocean. To behold this fabulous gulf in 
stark reality was a lure which seemed impossible of resistance once we knew of 
the thing - yet we realized we must begin the quest at once if we expected to 
include it in our present trip. 

It was now 8 P.M., and we did not have enough battery replacements to let our 
torches burn on forever. We had done so much studying and copying below the 
glacial level that our battery supply had had at least five hours of nearly 
continuous use, and despite the special dry cell formula, would obviously be 
good for only about four more - though by keeping one torch unused, except for 
especially interesting or difficult places, we might manage to eke out a safe 
margin beyond that. It would not do to be without a light in these Cyclopean 
catacombs, hence in order to make the abyss trip we must give up all further 
mural deciphering. Of course we intended to revisit the place for days and 
perhaps weeks of intensive study and photography - curiosity having long ago 
got the better of horror - but just now we must hasten. 

Our supply of trail-blazing paper was far from unlimited, and we were reluctant 
to sacrifice spare notebooks or sketching paper to augment it, but we did let one 
large notebook go. If worse came to worst we could resort to rock chipping - and 
of course it would be possible, even in case of really lost direction, to work up to 
full daylight by one channel or another if granted sufficient time for plentiful 
trial and error. So at last we set off eagerly in the indicated direction of the 
nearest tunnel. 



68 



According to the carvings from which we had made our map, the desired tunnel 
mouth could not be much more than a quarter of a mile from where we stood; 
the intervening space showing solid-looking buildings quite likely to be 
penetrable still at a sub-glacial level. The opening itself would be in the basement 
- on the angle nearest the foothills - of a vast five-pointed structure of evidently 
public and perhaps ceremonial nature, which we tried to identify from our aerial 
survey of the ruins. 

No such structure came to our minds as we recalled our flight, hence we 
concluded that its upper parts had been greatly damaged, or that it had been 
totally shattered in an ice rift we had noticed. In the latter case the tunnel would 
probably turn out to be choked, so that we would have to try the next nearest 
one - the one less than a mile to the north. The intervening river course 
prevented our trying any of the more southern tunnels on this trip; and indeed, if 
both of the neighboring ones were choked it was doubtful whether our batteries 
would warrant an attempt on the next northerly one - about a mile beyond our 
second choice. 

As we threaded our dim way through the labyrinth with the aid of map and 
compass - traversing rooms and corridors in every stage of ruin or preservation, 
clambering up ramps, crossing upper floors and bridges and clambering down 
again, encountering choked doorways and piles of debris, hastening now and 
then along finely preserved and uncannily immaculate stretches, taking false 
leads and retracing our way (in such cases removing the blind paper trail we had 
left), and once in a while striking the bottom of an open shaft through which 
daylight poured or trickled down - we were repeatedly tantalized by the 
sculptured walls along our route. Many must have told tales of immense 
historical importance, and only the prospect of later visits reconciled us to the 
need of passing them by. As it was, we slowed down once in a while and turned 
on our second torch. If we had had more films, we would certainly have paused 
briefly to photograph certain bas-reliefs, but time-consuming hand-copying was 
clearly out of the question. 

I come now once more to a place where the temptation to hesitate, or to hint 
rather than state, is very strong. It is necessary, however, to reveal the rest in 
order to justify my course in discouraging further exploration. We had wormed 
our way very close to the computed site of the tunnel's mouth - having crossed a 
second-story bridge to what seemed plainly the tip of a pointed wall, and 
descended to a ruinous corridor especially rich in decadently elaborate and 
apparently ritualistic sculptures of late workmanship - when, shortly before 8:30 
P.M., Danforth's keen young nostrils gave us the first hint of something unusual. 
If we had had a dog with us, I suppose we would have been warned before. At 
first we could not precisely say what was wrong with the formerly crystal-pure 



69 



air, but after a few seconds our memories reacted only too definitely. Let me try 
to state the thing without flinching. There was an odor - and that odor was 
vaguely, subtly, and unmistakably akin to what had nauseated us upon opening 
the insane grave of the horror poor Lake had dissected. 

Of course the revelation was not as clearly cut at the time as it sounds now. There 
were several conceivable explanations, and we did a good deal of indecisive 
whispering. Most important of all, we did not retreat without further 
investigation; for having come this far, we were loath to be balked by anything 
short of certain disaster. Anyway, what we must have suspected was altogether 
too wild to believe. Such things did not happen in any normal world. It was 
probably sheer irrational instinct which made us dim our single torch - tempted 
no longer by the decadent and sinister sculptures that leered menacingly from 
the oppressive walls - and which softened our progress to a cautious tiptoeing 
and crawling over the increasingly littered floor and heaps of debris. 

Danforth's eyes as well as nose proved better than mine, for it was likewise he 
who first noticed the queer aspect of the debris after we had passed many half- 
choked arches leading to chambers and corridors on the ground level. It did not 
look quite as it ought after countless thousands of years of desertion, and when 
we cautiously turned on more light we saw that a kind of swath seemed to have 
been lately tracked through it. The irregular nature of the litter precluded any 
definite marks, but in the smoother places there were suggestions of the 
dragging of heavy objects. Once we thought there was a hint of parallel tracks as 
if of runners. This was what made us pause again. 

It was during that pause that we caught - simultaneously this time - the other 
odor ahead. Paradoxically, it was both a less frightful and more frightful odor - 
less frightful intrinsically, but infinitely appalling in this place under the known 
circumstances - unless, of course, Gedney - for the odor was the plain and 
familiar one of common petrol - every-day gasoline. 

Our motivation after that is something I will leave to psychologists. We knew 
now that some terrible extension of the camp horrors must have crawled into this 
nighted burial place of the aeons, hence could not doubt any longer the existence 
of nameless conditions - present or at least recent just ahead. Yet in the end we 
did let sheer burning curiosity-or anxiety-or autohypnotism - or vague thoughts 
of responsibility toward Gedney - or what not - drive us on. Danforth whispered 
again of the print he thought he had seen at the alley turning in the ruins above; 
and of the faint musical piping - potentially of tremendous significance in the 
light of Lake's dissection report, despite its close resemblance to the cave-mouth 
echoes of the windy peaks - which he thought he had shortly afterward half 
heard from unknown depths below. I, in my turn, whispered of how the camp 



70 



was left - of what had disappeared, and of how the madness of a lone survivor 
might have conceived the inconceivable - a wild trip across the monstrous 
mountains and a descent into the unknown, primal masonry - But we could not 
convince each other, or even ourselves, of anything definite. We had turned off 
all light as we stood still, and vaguely noticed that a trace of deeply filtered 
upper day kept the blackness from being absolute. Having automatically begun 
to move ahead, we guided ourselves by occasional flashes from our torch. The 
disturbed debris formed an impression we could not shake off, and the smell of 
gasoline grew stronger. More and more ruin met our eyes and hampered our 
feet, until very soon we saw that the forward way was about to cease. We had 
been all too correct in our pessimistic guess about that rift glimpsed from the air. 
Our tunnel quest was a blind one, and we were not even going to be able to 
reach the basement out of which the abyssward aperture opened. 

The torch, flashing over the grotesquely carved walls of the blocked corridor in 
which we stood, showed several doorways in various states of obstruction; and 
from one of them the gasoline odor-quite submerging that other hint of odor - 
came with especial distinctness. As we looked more steadily, we saw that 
beyond a doubt there had been a slight and recent clearing away of debris from 
that particular opening. Whatever the lurking horror might be, we believed the 
direct avenue toward it was now plainly manifest. I do not think anyone will 
wonder that we waited an appreciable time before making any further motion. 

And yet, when we did venture inside that black arch, our first impression was 
one of anticlimax. For amidst the littered expanse of that sculptured Crypt - a 
perfect cube with sides of about twenty feet - there remained no recent object of 
instantly discernible size; so that we looked instinctively, though in vain, for a 
farther doorway. In another moment, however, Danforth's sharp vision had 
descried a place where the floor debris had been disturbed; and we turned on 
both torches full strength. Though what we saw in that light was actually simple 
and trifling, I am none the less reluctant to tell of it because of what it implied. It 
was a rough leveling of the debris, upon which several small objects lay 
carelessly scattered, and at one corner of which a considerable amount of 
gasoline must have been spilled lately enough to leave a strong odor even at this 
extreme superplateau altitude. In other words, it could not be other than a sort of 
camp - a camp made by questing beings who, like us, had been turned back by 
the unexpectedly choked way to the abyss. 

Let me be plain. The scattered objects were, so far as substance was concerned, 
all from Lake's camp; and consisted of tin cans as queerly opened as those we 
had seen at that ravaged place, many spent matches, three illustrated books more 
or less curiously smudged, an empty ink bottle with its pictorial and 
instructional carton, a broken fountain pen, some oddly snipped fragments of fur 



71 



and tent cloth, a used electric battery with circular of directions, a folder that 
came with our type of tent heater, and a sprinkling of crumpled papers. It was all 
bad enough but when we smoothed out the papers and looked at what was on 
them, we felt we had come to the worst. We had found certain inexplicably 
blotted papers at the camp which might have prepared us, yet the effect of the 
sight down there in the prehuman vaults of a nightmare city was almost too 
much to bear. 

A mad Gedney might have made the groups of dots in imitation of those found 
on the greenish soapstones, just as the dots on those insane five-pointed grave 
mounds might have been made; and he might conceivably have prepared rough, 
hasty sketches - varying in their accuracy or lack of it - which outlined the 
neighboring parts of the city and traced the way from a circularly represented 
place outside our previous route - a place we identified as a great cylindrical 
tower in the carvings and as a vast circular gulf glimpsed in our aerial survey - to 
the present five-pointed structure and the tunnel mouth therein. 

He might, I repeat, have prepared such sketches; for those before us were quite 
obviously compiled, as our own had been, from late sculptures somewhere in the 
glacial labyrinth, though not from the ones which we had seen and used. But 
what the art-blind bungler could never have done was to execute those sketches 
in a strange and assured technique perhaps superior, despite haste and 
carelessness, to any of the decadent carvings from which they were taken - the 
characteristic and unmistakable technique of the Old Ones themselves in the 
dead city's heyday. 

There are those who will say Danforth and I were utterly mad not to flee for our 
lives after that; since our conclusions were now - notwithstanding their wildness 

- completely fixed, and of a nature I need not even mention to those who have 
read my account as far as this. Perhaps we were mad - for have I not said those 
horrible peaks were mountains of madness? But I think I can detect something of 
the same spirit - albeit in a less extreme form - in the men who stalk deadly 
beasts through African jungles to photograph them or study their habits. Half 
paralyzed with terror though we were, there was nevertheless fanned within us a 
blazing flame of awe and curiosity which triumphed in the end. 

Of course we did not mean to face that - or those - which we knew had been 
there, but we felt that they must be gone by now. They would by this time have 
found the other neighboring entrance to the abyss, and have passed within, to 
whatever night-black fragments of the past might await them in the ultimate gulf 

- the ultimate gulf they had never seen. Or if that entrance, too, was blocked, they 
would have gone on to the north seeking another. They were, we remembered, 
partly independent of light. 



72 



Looking back to that moment, I can scarcely recall just what precise form our 
new emotions took - just what change of immediate objective it was that so 
sharpened our sense of expectancy. We certainly did not mean to face what we 
feared - yet I will not deny that we may have had a lurking, unconscious wish to 
spy certain things from some hidden vantage point. Probably we had not given 
up our zeal to glimpse the abyss itself, though there was interposed a new goal 
in the form of that great circular place shown on the crumpled sketches we had 
found. We had at once recognized it as a monstrous cylindrical tower figuring in 
the very earliest carvings, but appearing only as a prodigious round aperture 
from above. Something about the impressiveness of its rendering, even in these 
hasty diagrams, made us think that its subglacial levels must still form a feature 
of peculiar importance. Perhaps it embodied architectural marvels as yet 
unencountered by us. It was certainly of incredible age according to the 
sculptures in which it figured - being indeed among the first things built in the 
city. Its carvings, if preserved, could not but be highly significant. Moreover, it 
might form a good present link with the upper world - a shorter route than the 
one we were so carefully blazing, and probably that by which those others had 
descended. 

At any rate, the thing we did was to study the terrible sketches - which quite 
perfectly confirmed our own - and start back over the indicated course to the 
circular place; the course which our nameless predecessors must have traversed 
twice before us. The other neighboring gate to the abyss would lie beyond that. I 
need not speak of our journey - during which we continued to leave an 
economical trail of paper - for it was precisely the same in kind as that by which 
we had reached the cul-de-sac; except that it tended to adhere more closely to the 
ground level and even descend to basement corridors. Every now and then we 
could trace certain disturbing marks in the debris or litter underfoot; and after 
we had passed outside the radius of the gasoline scent, we were again faintly 
conscious - spasmodically - of that more hideous and more persistent scent. After 
the way had branched from our former course, we sometimes gave the rays of 
our single torch a furtive sweep along the walls; noting in almost every case the 
well-nigh omnipresent sculptures, which indeed seem to have formed a main 
aesthetic outlet for the Old Ones. 

About 9:30 P.M., while traversing a long, vaulted corridor whose increasingly 
glaciated floor seemed somewhat below the ground level and whose roof grew 
lower as we advanced, we began to see strong daylight ahead and were able to 
turn off our torch. It appeared that we were coming to the vast circular place, 
and that our distance from the upper air could not be very great. The corridor 
ended in an arch surprisingly low for these megalithic ruins, but we could see 
much through it even before we emerged. Beyond there stretched a prodigious 
round space - fully two hundred feet in diameter - strewn with debris and 



73 



containing many choked archways corresponding to the one we were about to 
cross. The walls were - in available spaces - boldly sculptured into a spiral band 
of heroic proportions; and displayed, despite the destructive weathering caused 
by the openness of the spot, an artistic splendor far beyond anything we had 
encountered before. The littered floor was quite heavily glaciated, and we 
fancied that the true bottom lay at a considerably lower depth. 

But the salient object of the place was the titanic stone ramp which, eluding the 
archways by a sharp turn outward into the open floor, wound spirally up the 
stupendous cylindrical wall like an inside counterpart of those once climbing 
outside the monstrous towers or ziggurats of antique Babylon. Only the rapidity 
of our flight, and the perspective which confounded the descent with the tower's 
inner wall, had prevented our noticing this feature from the air, and thus caused 
us to seek another avenue to the subglacial level. Pabodie might have been able 
to tell what sort of engineering held it in place, but Danforth and I could merely 
admire and marvel. We could see mighty stone corbels and pillars here and 
there, but what we saw seemed inadequate to the function performed. The thing 
was excellently preserved up to the present top of the tower - a highly 
remarkable circumstance in view of its exposure - and its shelter had done much 
to protect the bizarre and disturbing cosmic sculptures on the walls. 

As we stepped out into the awesome half daylight of this monstrous cylinder 
bottom - fifty million years old, and without doubt the most primally ancient 
structure ever to meet our eyes - we saw that the ramp- traversed sides stretched 
dizzily up to a height of fully sixty feet. This, we recalled from our aerial survey, 
meant an outside glaciation of some forty feet; since the yawning gulf we had 
seen from the plane had been at the top of an approximately twenty-foot mound 
of crumbled masonry, somewhat sheltered for three-fourths of its circumference 
by the massive curving walls of a line of higher ruins. According to the 
sculptures, the original tower had stood in the center of an immense circular 
plaza, and had been perhaps five hundred or six hundred feet high, with tiers of 
horizontal disks near the top, and a row of needlelike spires along the upper rim. 
Most of the masonry had obviously toppled outward rather than inward - a 
fortunate happening, since otherwise the ramp might have been shattered and 
the whole interior choked. As it was, the ramp showed sad battering; whilst the 
choking was such that all the archways at the bottom seemed to have been 
recently cleared. 

It took us only a moment to conclude that this was indeed the route by which 
those others had descended, and that this would be the logical route for our own 
ascent despite the long trail of paper we had left elsewhere. The tower's mouth 
was no farther from the foothills and our waiting plane than was the great 
terraced building we had entered, and any further subglacial exploration we 



74 



might make on this trip would He in this general region. Oddly, we were still 
thinking about possible later trips - even after all we had seen and guessed. Then, 
as we picked our way cautiously over the debris of the great floor, there came a 
sight which for the time excluded all other matters. 

It was the neatly huddled array of three sledges in that farther angle of the 
ramp's lower and outward- projecting course which had hitherto been screened 
from our view. There they were - the three sledges missing from Lake's camp - 
shaken by a hard usage which must have included forcible dragging along great 
reaches of snowless masonry and debris, as well as much hand portage over 
utterly unnavigable places. They were carefully and intelligently packed and 
strapped, and contained things memorably familiar enough: the gasoline stove, 
fuel cans, instrument cases, provision tins, tarpaulins obviously bulging with 
books, and some bulging with less obvious contents - everything derived from 
Lake's equipment. 

Alter what we had found in that other room, we were in a measure prepared for 
this encounter. The really great shock came when we stepped over and undid 
one tarpaulin whose outlines had peculiarly disquieted us. It seems that others as 
well as Lake had been interested in collecting typical specimens; for there were 
two here, both stiffly frozen, perfectly preserved, patched with adhesive plaster 
where some wounds around the neck had occurred, and wrapped with care to 
prevent further damage. They were the bodies of young Gedney and the missing 
dog. 

X 

Many people will probably judge us callous as well as mad for thinking about 
the northward tunnel and the abyss so soon after our somber discovery, and I am 
not prepared to say that we would have immediately revived such thoughts but 
for a specific circumstance which broke in upon us and set up a whole new train 
of speculations. We had replaced the tarpaulin over poor Gedney and were 
standing in a kind of mute bewilderment when the sounds finally reached our 
consciousness - the first sounds we had heard since descending out of the open 
where the mountain wind whined faintly from its unearthly heights. Well- 
known and mundane though they were, their presence in this remote world of 
death was more unexpected and unnerving than any grotesque or fabulous tones 
could possibly have been - since they gave a fresh upsetting to all our notions of 
cosmic harmony. 

Had it been some trace of that bizarre musical piping over a wide range which 
Lake's dissection report had led us to expect in those others - and which, indeed, 
our overwrought fancies had been reading into every wind howl we had heard 



7b 



since coining on the camp horror - it would have had a kind of helHsh congruity 
with the aeon-dead region around us. A voice from other epochs belongs in a 
graveyard of other epochs. As it was, however, the noise shattered all our 
profoundly seated adjustments - all our tacit acceptance of the inner antarctic as a 
waste utterly and irrevocably void of every vestige of normal life. What we heard 
was not the fabulous note of any buried blasphemy of elder earth from whose 
supernal toughness an age-denied polar sun had evoked a monstrous response. 
Instead, it was a thing so mockingly normal and so unerringly familiarized by 
our sea days off Victoria Land and our camp days at McMurdo Sound that we 
shuddered to think of it here, where such things ought not to be. To be brief - it 
was simply the raucous squawking of a penguin. 

The muffled sound floated from subglacial recesses nearly opposite to the 
corridor whence we had come - regions manifestly in the direction of that other 
tunnel to the vast abyss. The presence of a living water bird in such a direction - 
in a world whose surface was one of age-long and uniform lifelessness - could 
lead to only one conclusion; hence our first thought was to verify the objective 
reality of the sound. It was, indeed, repeated, and seemed at times to come from 
more than one throat. Seeking its source, we entered an archway from which 
much debris had been cleared; resuming our trail blazing - with an added paper 
supply taken with curious repugnance from one of the tarpaulin bundles on the 
sledges - when we left daylight behind. 

As the glaciated floor gave place to a litter of detritus, we plainly discerned some 
curious, dragging tracks; and once Danforth found a distinct print of a sort 
whose description would be only too superfluous. The course indicated by the 
penguin cries was precisely what our map and compass prescribed as an 
approach to the more northerly tunnel mouth, and we were glad to find that a 
bridgeless thoroughfare on the ground and basement levels seemed open. The 
tunnel, according to the chart, ought to start from the basement of a large 
pyramidal structure which we seemed vaguely to recall from our aerial survey as 
remarkably well-preserved. Along our path the single torch showed a customary 
profusion of carvings, but we did not pause to examine any of these. 

Suddenly a bulky white shape loomed up ahead of us, and we flashed on the 
second torch. It is odd how wholly this new quest had turned our minds from 
earlier fears of what might lurk near. Those other ones, having left their supplies 
in the great circular place, must have planned to return after their scouting trip 
toward or into the abyss; yet we had now discarded all caution concerning them 
as completely as if they had never existed. This white, waddling thing was fully 
six feet high, yet we seemed to realize at once that it was not one of those others. 
They were larger and dark, and, according to the sculptures, their motion over 
land surfaces was a swift, assured matter despite the queerness of their sea-born 



76 



tentacle equipment. But to say that the white thing did not profoundly frighten 
us would be vain. We were indeed clutched for an instant by primitive dread 
almost sharper than the worst of our reasoned fears regarding those others. Then 
came a flash of anticlimax as the white shape sidled into a lateral archway to our 
left to join two others of its kind which had summoned it in raucous tones. For it 
was only a penguin - albeit of a huge, unknown species larger than the greatest 
of the known king penguins, and monstrous in its combined albinism and virtual 
eyelessness. 

When we had followed the thing into the archway and turned both our torches 
on the indifferent and unheeding group of three, we saw that they were all 
eyeless albinos of the same unknown and gigantic species. Their size reminded 
us of some of the archaic penguins depicted in the Old Ones' sculptures, and it 
did not take us long to conclude that they were descended from the same stock- 
undoubtedly surviving through a retreat to some warmer inner region whose 
perpetual blackness had destroyed their pigmentation and atrophied their eyes 
to mere useless slits. That their present habitat was the vast abyss we sought, was 
not for a moment to be doubted; and this evidence of the gulf's continued 
warmth and habitability filled us with the most curious and subtly perturbing 
fancies. 

We wondered, too, what had caused these three birds to venture out of their 
usual domain. The state and silence of the great dead city made it clear that it 
had at no time been an habitual seasonal rookery, whilst the manifest 
indifference of the trio to our presence made it seem odd that any passing party 
of those others should have startled them. Was it possible that those others had 
taken some aggressive action or t- ried to increase their meat supply? We 
doubted whether that pungent odor which the dogs had hated could cause an 
equal antipathy in these penguins, since their ancestors had obviously lived on 
excellent terms with the Old Ones - an amicable relationship which must have 
survived in the abyss below as long as any of the Old Ones remained. Regretting 
- in a flare-up of the old spirit of pure science - that we could not photograph 
these anomalous creatures, we shortly left them to their squawking and pushed 
on toward the abyss whose openness was now so positively proved to us, and 
whose exact direction occasional penguin tracks made clear. 

Not long afterward a steep descent in a long, low, doorless, and peculiarly 
sculptureless corridor led us to believe that we were approaching the tunnel 
mouth at last. We had passed two more penguins, and heard others immediately 
ahead. Then the corridor ended in a prodigious open space which made us gasp 
involuntarily - a perfect inverted hemisphere, obviously deep underground; fully 
a hundred feet in diameter and fifty feet high, with low archways opening 
around all parts of the circumference but one, and that one yawning cavernously 



n 



with a black, arched aperture which broke the symmetry of the vauh to a height 
of nearly fifteen feet. It was the entrance to the great abyss. 

In this vast hemisphere, whose concave roof was impressively though 
decadently carved to a likeness of the primordial celestial dome, a few albino 
penguins waddled - aliens there, but indifferent and unseeing. The black tunnel 
yawned indefinitely off at a steep, descending grade, its aperture adorned with 
grotesquely chiseled jambs and lintel. From that cryptical mouth we fancied a 
current of slightly warmer air, and perhaps even a suspicion of vapor proceeded; 
and we wondered what living entities other than penguins the limitless void 
below, and the contiguous honeycombings of the land and the titan mountains, 
might conceal. We wondered, too, whether the trace of mountaintop smoke at 
first suspected by poor Lake, as well as the odd haze we had ourselves perceived 
around the rampart-crowned peak, might not be caused by the tortuous- 
channeled rising of some such vapor from the unfathomed regions of earth's 
core. 

Entering the tunnel, we saw that its outline was - at least at the start - about 
fifteen feet each way - sides, floor, and arched roof composed of the usual 
megalithic masonry. The sides were sparsely decorated with cartouches of 
conventional designs in a late, decadent style; and all the construction and 
carving were marvelously well-preserved. The floor was quite clear, except for a 
slight detritus bearing outgoing penguin tracks and the inward tracks of these 
others. The farther one advanced, the warmer it became; so that we were soon 
unbuttoning our heavy garments. We wondered whether there were any actually 
igneous manifestations below, and whether the waters of that sunless sea were 
hot. Alter a short distance the masonry gave place to solid rock, though the 
tunnel kept the same proportions and presented the same aspect of carved 
regularity. Occasionally its varying grade became so steep that grooves were cut 
in the floor. Several times we noted the mouths of small lateral galleries not 
recorded in our diagrams; none of them such as to complicate the problem of our 
return, and all of them welcome as possible refuges in case we met unwelcome 
entities on their way back from the abyss. The nameless scent of such things was 
very distinct. Doubtless it was suicidally foolish to venture into that tunnel under 
the known conditions, but the lure of the unplumbed is stronger in certain 
persons than most suspect - indeed, it was just such a lure which had brought us 
to this unearthly polar waste in the first place. We saw several penguins as we 
passed along, and speculated on the distance we would have to traverse. The 
carvings had led us to expect a steep downhill walk of about a mile to the abyss, 
but our previous wanderings had shown us that matters of scale were not wholly 
to be depended on. 



78 



Alter about a quarter of a mile that nameless scent became greatly accentuated, 
and we kept very careful track of the various lateral openings we passed. There 
was no visible vapor as at the mouth, but this was doubtless due to the lack of 
contrasting cooler air. The temperature was rapidly ascending, and we were not 
surprised to come upon a careless heap of material shudderingly familiar to us. It 
was composed of furs and tent cloth taken from Lake's camp, and we did not 
pause to study the bizarre forms into which the fabrics had been slashed. Slightly 
beyond this point we noticed a decided increase in the size and number of the 
side galleries, and concluded that the densely honeycombed region beneath the 
higher foothills must now have been reached. The nameless scent was now 
curiously mixed with another and scarcely less offensive odor - of what nature 
we could not guess, though we thought of decaying organisms and perhaps 
unknown subterranean fungi. Then came a startling expansion of the tunnel for 
which the carvings had not prepared us - a broadening and rising into a lofty, 
natural-looking elliptical cavern with a level floor, some seventy-five feet long 
and fifty broad, and with many immense side passages leading away into 
cryptical darkness. 

Though this cavern was natural in appearance, an inspection with both torches 
suggested that it had been formed by the artificial destruction of several walls 
between adjacent honey combings. The walls were rough, and the high, vaulted 
roof was thick with stalactites; but the solid rock floor had been smoothed off, 
and was free from all debris, detritus, or even dust to a positively abnormal 
extent. Except for the avenue through which we had come, this was true of the 
floors of all the great galleries opening off from it; and the singularity of the 
condition was such as to set us vainly puzzling. The curious new fetor which had 
supplemented the nameless scent was excessively pungent here; so much so that 
it destroyed all trace of the other. Something about this whole place, with its 
polished and almost glistening floor, struck us as more vaguely baffling and 
horrible than any of the monstrous things we had previously encountered. 

The regularity of the passage immediately ahead, as well as the larger proportion 
of penguin-droppings there, prevented all confusion as to the right course amidst 
this plethora of equally great cave mouths. Nevertheless we resolved to resume 
our paper trailblazing if any further complexity should develop; for dust tracks, 
of course, could no longer be expected. Upon resuming our direct progress we 
cast a beam of torchlight over the tunnel walls - and stopped short in amazement 
at the supremely radical change which had come over the carvings in this part of 
the passage. We realized, of course, the great decadence of the Old Ones' 
sculpture at the time of the tunneling, and had indeed noticed the inferior 
workmanship of the arabesques in the stretches behind us. But now, in this 
deeper section beyond the cavern, there was a sudden difference wholly 
transcending explanation - a difference in basic nature as well as in mere quality. 



79 



and involving so profound and calamitous a degradation of skill that nothing in 
the hitherto observed rate of decline could have led one to expect it. 

This new and degenerate work was coarse, bold, and wholly lacking in delicacy 
of detail. It was countersunk with exaggerated depth in bands following the 
same general line as the sparse car-touches of the earlier sections, but the height 
of the reliefs did not reach the level of the general surface. Danforth had the idea 
that it was a second carving - a sort of palimpsest formed after the obliteration of 
a previous design. In nature it was wholly decorative and conventional, and 
consisted of crude spirals and angles roughly following the quintile 
mathematical tradition of the Old Ones, yet seemingly more like a parody than a 
perpetuation of that tradition. We could not get it out of our minds that some 
subtly but profoundly alien element had been added to the aesthetic feeling 
behind the technique - an alien element, Danforth guessed, that was responsible 
for the laborious substitution. It was like, yet disturbingly unlike, what we had 
come to recognize as the Old Ones' art; and I was persistently reminded of such 
hybrid things as the ungainly Palmyrene sculptures fashioned in the Roman 
manner. That others had recently noticed this belt of carving was hinted by the 
presence of a used flashlight battery on the floor in front of one of the most 
characteristic cartouches. 

Since we could not afford to spend any considerable time in study, we resumed 
our advance after a cursory look; though frequently casting beams over the walls 
to see if any further decorative changes developed. Nothing of the sort was 
perceived, though the carvings were in places rather sparse because of the 
numerous mouths of smooth-floored lateral tunnels. We saw and heard fewer 
penguins, but thought we caught a vague suspicion of an infinitely distant 
chorus of them somewhere deep within the earth. The new and inexplicable odor 
was abominably strong, and we could detect scarcely a sign of that other 
nameless scent. Puffs of visible vapor ahead bespoke increasing contrasts in 
temperature, and the relative nearness of the sunless sea cliffs of the great abyss. 
Then, quite unexpectedly, we saw certain obstructions on the polished floor 
ahead - obstructions which were quite definitely not penguins - and turned on 
our second torch after making sure that the objects were quite stationary. 

XI 

Still another time have I come to a place where it is very difficult to proceed. I 
ought to be hardened by this stage; but there are some experiences and 
intimations which scar too deeply to permit of healing, and leave only such an 
added sensitiveness that memory reinspires all the original horror. We saw, as I 
have said, certain obstructions on the polished floor ahead; and I may add that 
our nostrils were assailed almost simultaneously by a very curious intensification 



80 



of the strange prevailing fetor, now quite plainly mixed with the nameless stench 
of those others which had gone before. The light of the second torch left no doubt 
of what the obstructions were, and we dared approach them only because we 
could see, even from a distance, that they were quite as past all harming power 
as had been the six similar specimens unearthed from the monstrous star- 
mounded graves at poor Lake's camp. 

They were, indeed, as lacking - in completeness as most of those we had 
unearthed - though it grew plain from the thick, dark green pool gathering 
around them that their incompleteness was of infinitely greater recency. There 
seemed to be only four of them, whereas Lake's bulletins would have suggested 
no less than eight as forming the group which had preceded us. To find them in 
this state was wholly unexpected, and we wondered what sort of monstrous 
struggle had occurred down here in the dark. 

Penguins, attacked in a body, retaliate savagely with their beaks, and our ears 
now made certain the existence of a rookery far beyond. Had those others 
disturbed such a place and aroused murderous pursuit? The obstructions did not 
suggest it, for penguins' beaks against the tough tissues Lake had dissected could 
hardly account for the terrible damage our approaching glance was beginning to 
make out. Besides, the huge blind birds we had seen appeared to be singularly 
peaceful. 

Had there, then, been a struggle among those others, and were the absent four 
responsible? If so, where were they? Were they close at hand and likely to form 
an immediate menace to us? We glanced anxiously at some of the smooth- 
floored lateral passages as we continued our slow and frankly reluctant 
approach. Whatever the conflict was, it had clearly been that which had 
frightened the penguins into their unaccustomed wandering. It must, then, have 
arisen near that faintly heard rookery in the incalculable gulf beyond, since there 
were no signs that any birds had normally dwelt here. Perhaps, we reflected, 
there had been a hideous running fight, with the weaker party seeking to get 
back to the cached sledges when their pursuers finished them. One could picture 
the demoniac fray between namelessly monstrous entities as it surged out of the 
black abyss with great clouds of frantic penguins squawking and scurrying 
ahead. 

I say that we approached those sprawling and incomplete obstructions slowly 
and reluctantly. Would to Heaven we had never approached them at all, but had 
run back at top speed out of that blasphemous tunnel with the greasily smooth 
floors and the degenerate murals aping and mocking the things they had 
superseded-run back, before we had seen what we did see, and before our minds 
were burned with something which will never let us breathe easily again! 



81 



Both of our torches were turned on the prostrate objects, so that we soon reaHzed 
the dominant factor in their incompleteness. Mauled, compressed, twisted, and 
ruptured as they were, their chief common injury was total decapitation. From 
each one the tentacled starfish head had been removed; and as we drew near we 
saw that the manner of removal looked more like some hellish tearing or suction 
than like any ordinary form of cleavage. Their noisome dark-green ichor formed 
a large, spreading pOOl; but its stench was half overshadowed by the newer and 
stranger stench, here more pungent than at any other point along our route. Only 
when we had come very close to the sprawling obstructions could we trace that 
second, unexplainable fetor to any immediate source - and the instant we did so 
Danforth, remembering certain very vivid sculptures of the Old Ones' history in 
the Permian Age one hundred and fifty million years ago, gave vent to a nerve- 
tortured cry which echoed hysterically through that vaulted and archaic passage 
with the evil, palimpsest carvings. 

I came only just short of echoing his cry myself; for I had seen those primal 
sculptures, too, and had shudderingly admired the way the nameless artist had 
suggested that hideous slime coating found on certain incomplete and prostrate 
Old Ones - those whom the frightful Shoggoths had characteristically slain and 
sucked to a ghastly headlessness in the great war of resubjugation. They were 
infamous, nightmare sculptures even when telling of age-old, bygone things; for 
Shoggoths and their work ought not to be seen by human beings or portrayed by 
any beings. The mad author of the Necronomicon had nervously tried to swear 
that none had been bred on this planet, and that only drugged dreamers had 
even conceived them. Formless protoplasm able to mock and reflect all forms 
and organs and processes - viscous agglutinations of bubbling cells - rubbery 
fifteen-foot spheroids infinitely plastic and ductile - slaves of suggestion, builders 
of cities - more and more sullen, more and more intelligent, more and more 
amphibious, more and more imitative! Great God! What madness made even 
those blasphemous Old Ones willing to use and carve such things? 

And now, when Danforth and I saw the freshly glistening and reflectively 
iridescent black slime which clung thickly to those headless bodies and stank 
obscenely with that new, unknown odor whose cause only a diseased fancy 
could envisage - clung to those bodies and sparkled less voluminously on a 
smooth part of the accursedly resculptured wall in a series of grouped dots - we 
understood the quality of cosmic fear to its uttermost depths. It was not fear of 
those four missing others - for all too well did we suspect they would do no 
harm again. Poor devils! Alter all, they were not evil things of their kind. They 
were the men of another age and another order of being. Nature had played a 
hellish jest on them - as it will on any others that human madness, callousness, or 
cruelty may hereafter dig up in that hideously dead or sleeping polar waste - and 
this was their tragic homecoming. They had not been even savages-for what 



82 



indeed had they done? That awful awakening in the cold of an unknown epoch - 
perhaps an attack by the furry, frantically barking quadrupeds, and a dazed 
defense against them and the equally frantic white simians with the queer 
wrappings and paraphernalia ... poor Lake, poor Gedney... and poor Old Ones! 
Scientists to the last - what had they done that we would not have done in their 
place? God, what intelligence and persistence! What a facing of the incredible, 
just as those carven kinsmen and forbears had faced things only a little less 
incredible! Radiates, vegetables, monstrosities, star spawn - whatever they had 
been, they were men! 

They had crossed the icy peaks on whose templed slopes they had once 
worshipped and roamed among the tree ferns. They had found their dead city 
brooding under its curse, and had read its carven latter days as we had done. 
They had tried to reach their living fellows in fabled depths of blackness they 
had never seen - and what had they found? All this flashed in unison through 
the thoughts of Danforth and me as we looked from those headless, slime-coated 
shapes to the loathsome palimpsest sculptures and the diabolical dot groups of 
fresh slime on the wall beside them - looked and understood what must have 
triumphed and survived down there in the Cyclopean water city of that nighted, 
penguin-fringed abyss, whence even now a sinister curling mist had begun to 
belch pallidly as if in answer to Danforth's hysterical scream. 

The shock of recognizing that monstrous slime and headlessness had frozen us 
into mute, motionless statues, and it is only through later conversations that we 
have learned of the complete identity of our thoughts at that moment. It seemed 
aeons that we stood there, but actually it could not have been more than ten or 
fifteen seconds. That hateful, pallid mist curled forward as if veritably driven by 
some remoter advancing bulk-and then came a sound which upset much of what 
we had just decided, and in so doing broke the spell and enabled us to run like 
mad past squawking, confused penguins over our former trail back to the city, 
along ice-sunken megalithic corridors to the great open circle, and up that 
archaic spiral ramp in a frenzied, automatic plunge for the sane outer air and 
light of day. 

The new sound, as I have intimated, upset much that we had decided; because it 
was what poor Lake's dissection had led us to attribute to those we had judged 
dead. It was, Danforth later told me, precisely what he had caught in infinitely 
muffled form when at that spot beyond the alley corner above the glacial level; 
and it certainly had a shocking resemblance to the wind pipings we had both 
heard around the lofty mountain caves. At the risk of seeming puerile I will add 
another thing, too, if only because of the surprising way Danforth's impressions 
chimed with mine. Of course common reading is what prepared us both to make 
the interpretation, though Danforth has hinted at queer notions about 



83 



unsuspected and forbidden sources to which Poe may have had access when 
writing his Arthur Gordon Pym a century ago. It will be remembered that in that 
fantastic tale there is a word of unknown but terrible and prodigious significance 
connected with the antarctic and screamed eternally by the gigantic spectrally 
snowy birds of that malign region's core. "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" That, I may admit, 
is exactly what we thought we heard conveyed by that sudden sound behind the 
advancing white mist-that insidious musical piping over a singularly wide 
range. 

We were in full flight before three notes or syllables had been uttered, though we 
knew that the swiftness of the Old Ones would enable any scream-roused and 
pursuing survivor of the slaughter to overtake us in a moment if it really wished 
to do so. We had a vague hope, however, that nonaggressive conduct and a 
display of kindred reason might cause such a being to spare us in case of capture, 
if only from scientific curiosity. Alter all, if such an one had nothing to fear for 
itself, it would have no motive in harming us. Concealment being futile at this 
juncture, we used our torch for a running glance behind, and perceived that the 
mist was thinning. Would we see, at last, a complete and living specimen of 
those others? Again came that insidious musical piping- "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" 
Then, noting that we were actually gaining on our pursuer, it occurred to us that 
the entity might be wounded. We could take no chances, however, since it was 
very obviously approaching in answer to Danforth's scream, rather than in flight 
from any other entity. The timing was too close to admit of doubt. Of the 
whereabouts of that less conceivable and less mentionable nightmare - that fetid, 
unglimpsed mountain of slime-spewing protoplasm whose race had conquered 
the abyss and sent land pioneers to recarve and squirm through the burrows of 
the hills - we could form no guess; and it cost us a genuine pang to leave this 
probably crippled Old One-perhaps a lone survivor - to the peril of recapture 
and a nameless fate. 

Thank Heaven we did not slacken our run. The curling mist had thickened again, 
and was driving ahead with increased speed; whilst the straying penguins in our 
rear were squawking and screaming and displaying signs of a panic really 
surprising in view of their relatively minor confusion when we had passed them. 
Once more came that sinister, wide-ranged piping - "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" We had 
been wrong. The thing was not wounded, but had merely paused on 
encountering the bodies of its fallen kindred and the hellish slime inscription 
above them. We could never know what that demon message was - but those 
burials at Lake's camp had shown how much importance the beings attached to 
their dead. Our recklessly used torch now revealed ahead of us the large open 
cavern where various ways converged, and we were glad to be leaving those 
morbid palimpsest sculptures - almost felt even when scarcely seen-behind. 
Another thought which the advent of the cave inspired was the possibility of 



84 



losing our pursuer at this bewildering focus of large galleries. There were several 
of the blind albino penguins in the open space, and it seemed clear that their fear 
of the oncoming entity was extreme to the point of unaccountability. If at that 
point we dimmed our torch to the very lowest limit of traveling need, keeping it 
strictly in front of us, the frightened squawking motions of the huge birds in the 
mist might muffle our footfalls, screen our true course, and somehow set up a 
false lead. Amidst the churning, spiraling fog, the littered and unglistening floor 
of the main tunnel beyond this point, as differing from the other morbidly 
polished burrows, could hardly form a highly distinguishing feature; even, so far 
as we could conjecture, for those indicated special senses which made the Old 
Ones partly, though imperfectly, independent of light in emergencies. In fact, we 
were somewhat apprehensive lest we go astray ourselves in our haste. For we 
had, of course, decided to keep straight on toward the dead city; since the 
consequences of loss in those unknown foothill honeycombings would be 
unthinkable. 

The fact that we survived and emerged is sufficient proof that the thing did take 
a wrong gallery whilst we providentially hit on the right one. The penguins 
alone could not have saved us, but in conjunction with the mist they seem to 
have done so. Only a benign fate kept the curling vapors thick enough at the 
right moment, for they were constantly shifting and threatening to vanish. 
Indeed, they did lift for a second just before we emerged from the nauseously 
resculptured tunnel into the cave; so that we actually caught one first and only 
half glimpse of the oncoming entity as we cast a final, desperately fearful glance 
backward before dimming the torch and mixing with the penguins in the hope of 
dodging pursuit. If the fate which screened us was benign, that which gave us 
the half glimpse was infinitely the opposite; for to that flash of semivision can be 
traced a full half of the horror which has ever since haunted us. 

Our exact motive in looking back again was perhaps no more than the 
immemorial instinct of the pursued to gauge the nature and course of its 
pursuer; or perhaps it was an automatic attempt to answer a subconscious 
question raised by one of our senses. In the midst of our flight, with all our 
faculties centered on the problem of escape, we were in no condition to observe 
and analyze details; yet even so, our latent brain cells must have wondered at the 
message brought them by our nostrils. Alterward we realized what it was-that 
our retreat from the fetid slime coating on those headless obstructions, and the 
coincident approach of the pursuing entity, had not brought us the exchange of 
stenches which logic called for. In the neighborhood of the prostrate things that 
new and lately unexplainable fetor had been wholly dominant; but by this time it 
ought to have largely given place to the nameless stench associated with those 
others. This it had not done - for instead, the newer and less bearable smell was 



85 



now virtually undiluted, and growing more and more poisonously insistent each 
second. 

So we glanced back simultaneously, it would appear; though no doubt the 
incipient motion of one prompted the imitation of the other. As we did so we 
flashed both torches full strength at the momentarily thinned mist; either from 
sheer primitive anxiety to see all we could, or in a less primitive but equally 
unconscious effort to dazzle the entity before we dimmed our light and dodged 
among the penguins of the labyrinth center ahead. Unhappy act! Not Orpheus 
himself, or Lot's wife, paid much more dearly for a backward glance. And again 
came that shocking, wide-ranged piping - "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" 

I might as well be frank - even if I cannot bear to be quite direct - in stating what 
we saw; though at the time we felt that it was not to be admitted even to each 
other. The words reaching the reader can never even suggest the awfulness of 
the sight itself. It crippled our consciousness so completely that I wonder we had 
the residual sense to dim our torches as planned, and to strike the right tunnel 
toward the dead city. Instinct alone must have carried us through - perhaps 
better than reason could have done; though if that was what saved us, we paid a 
high price. Of reason we certainly had little enough left. 

Danforth was totally unstrung, and the first thing I remember of the rest of the 
journey was hearing him lightheadedly chant an hysterical formula in which I 
alone of mankind could have found anything but insane irrelevance. It 
reverberated in falsetto echoes among the squawks of the penguins; reverberated 
through the vaultings ahead, and-thank God-through the now empty vaultings 
behind. He could not have begun it at once - else we would not have been alive 
and blindly racing. I shudder to think of what a shade of difference in his 
nervous reactions might have brought. 

"South Station Under - Washington Under - Park Street Under-Kendall - Central 
- Harvard - " The poor fellow was chanting the familiar stations of the Boston- 
Cambridge tunnel that burrowed through our peaceful native soil thousands of 
miles away in New England, yet to me the ritual had neither irrelevance nor 
home feeling. It had only horror, because I knew unerringly the monstrous, 
nefandous analogy that had suggested it. We had expected, upon looking back, 
to see a terrible and incredible moving entity if the mists were thin enough; but 
of that entity we had formed a clear idea. What we did see - for the mists were 
indeed all too malignly thinned - was something altogether different, and 
immeasurably more hideous and detestable. It was the utter, objective 
embodiment of the fantastic novelist's "thing that should not be"; and its nearest 
comprehensible analogue is a vast, onrushing subway train as one sees it from a 
station platform - the great black front looming colossally out of infinite 



86 



subterranean distance, constellated with strangely colored lights and filling the 
prodigious burrow as a piston fills a cylinder. 

But we were not on a station platform. We were on the track ahead as the 
nightmare, plastic column of fetid black iridescence oozed tightly onward 
through its fifteen-foot sinus, gathering unholy speed and driving before it a 
spiral, rethickening cloud of the pallid abyss vapor. It was a terrible, 
indescribable thing vaster than any subway train - a shapeless congeries of 
protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes 
forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling 
front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over 
the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter. Still 
came that eldritch, mocking cry- "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" and at last we remembered 
that the demoniac Shoggoths - given life, thought, and plastic organ patterns 
solely by the Old Ones, and having no language save that which the dot groups 
expressed - had likewise no voice save the imitated accents of their bygone 
masters. 

XII 

Danforth and I have recollections of emerging into the great sculptured 
hemisphere and of threading our back trail through the Cyclopean rooms and 
corridors of the dead city; yet these are purely dream fragments involving no 
memory of volition, details, or physical exertion. It was as if we floated in a 
nebulous world or dimension without time, causation, or orientation. The gray 
half-daylight of the vast circular space sobered us somewhat; but we did not go 
near those cached sledges or look again at poor Gedney and the dog. They have a 
strange and titanic mausoleum, and I hope the end of this planet will find them 
still undisturbed. 

It was while struggling up the colossal spiral incline that we first felt the terrible 
fatigue and short breath which our race through the thin plateau air had 
produced; but not even fear of collapse could make us pause before reaching the 
normal outer realm of sun and sky. There was something vaguely appropriate 
about our departure from those buried epochs; for as we wound our panting 
way up the sixty-foot cylinder of primal masonry, we glimpsed beside us a 
continuous procession of heroic sculptures in the dead race's early and 
undecayed technique - a farewell from the Old Ones, written fifty million years 
ago. 

Finally scrambling out at the top, we found ourselves on a great mound of 
tumbled blocks, with the curved walls of higher stonework rising westward, and 
the brooding peaks of the great mountains showing beyond the more crumbled 



87 



structures toward the east. The low antarctic sun of midnight peered redly from 
the southern horizon through rifts in the jagged ruins, and the terrible age and 
deadness of the nightmare city seemed all the starker by contrast with such 
relatively known and accustomed things as the features of the polar landscape. 
The sky above was a churning and opalescent mass of tenuous ice-vapors, and 
the cold clutched at our vitals. Wearily resting the outfit-bags to which we had 
instinctively clung throughout our desperate flight, we rebuttoned our heavy 
garments for the stumbling climb down the mound and the walk through the 
aeon-old stone maze to the foothills where our aeroplane waited. Of what had 
set us fleeing from that darkness of earth's secret and archaic gulfs we said 
nothing at all. 

In less than a quarter of an hour we had found the steep grade to the foothills-the 
probable ancient terrace - by which we had descended, and could see the dark 
bulk of our great plane amidst the sparse ruins on the rising slope ahead. 
Halfway uphill toward our goal we paused for a momentary breathing spell, and 
turned to look again at the fantastic tangle of incredible stone shapes below us- 
once more outlined mystically against an unknown west. As we did so we saw 
that the sky beyond had lost its morning haziness; the restless ice-vapors having 
moved up to the zenith, where their mocking outlines seemed on the point of 
settling into some bizarre pattern which they feared to make quite definite or 
conclusive. 

There now lay revealed on the ultimate white horizon behind the grotesque city 
a dim, elfin line of pinnacled violet whose needle-pointed heights loomed 
dreamlike against the beckoning rose color of the western sky. Up toward this 
shimmering rim sloped the ancient table-land, the depressed course of the 
bygone river traversing it as an irregular ribbon of shadow. For a second we 
gasped in admiration of the scene's unearthly cosmic beauty, and then vague 
horror began to creep into our souls. For this far violet line could be nothing else 
than the terrible mountains of the forbidden land - highest of earth's peaks and 
focus of earth's evil; harborers of nameless horrors and Archaean secrets; 
shunned and prayed to by those who feared to carve their meaning; untrodden 
by any living thing on earth, but visited by the sinister lightnings and sending 
strange beams across the plains in the polar night - beyond doubt the unknown 
archetype of that dreaded Kadath in the Cold Waste beyond abhorrent Leng, 
whereof primal legends hint evasively. 

If the sculptured maps and pictures in that prehuman city had told truly, these 
cryptic violet mountains could not be much less than three hundred miles away; 
yet none the less sharply did their dim elfin essence appear above that remote 
and snowy rim, like the serrated edge of a monstrous alien planet about to rise 
into unaccustomed heavens. Their height, then, must have been tremendous 



88 



beyond all comparison - carrying them up into tenuous atmospheric strata 
peopled only by such gaseous wraiths as rash flyers have barely lived to whisper 
of after unexplainable falls. Looking at them, I thought nervously of certain 
sculptured hints of what the great bygone river had washed down into the city 
from their accursed slopes - and wondered how much sense and how much folly 
had lain in the fears of those Old Ones who carved them so reticently. I recalled 
how their northerly end must come near the coast at Queen Mary Land, where 
even at that moment Sir Douglas Mawson's expedition was doubtless working 
less than a thousand miles away; and hoped that no evil fate would give Sir 
Douglas and his men a glimpse of what might lie beyond the protecting coastal 
range. Such thoughts formed a measure of my overwrought condition at the time 
- and Danforth seemed to be even worse. 

Yet long before we had passed the great star-shaped ruin and reached our plane, 
our fears had become transferred to the lesser but vast-enough range whose 
recrossing lay ahead of us. From these foothills the black, ruin-crusted slopes 
reared up starkly and hideously against the east, again reminding us of those 
strange Asian paintings of Nicholas Roerich; and when we thought of the 
frightful amorphous entities that might have pushed their fetidly squirming way 
even to the topmost hollow pinnacles, we could not face without panic the 
prospect of again sailing by those suggestive skyward cave mouths where the 
wind made sounds like an evil musical piping over a wide range. To make 
matters worse, we saw distinct traces of local mist around several of the 
summits-as poor Lake must have done when he made that early mistake about 
volcanism - and thought shiveringly of that kindred mist from which we had just 
escaped; of that, and of the blasphemous, horror-fostering abyss whence all such 
vapors came. 

All was well with the plane, and we clumsily hauled on our heavy flying furs. 
Danforth got the engine started without trouble, and we made a very smooth 
take-off over the nightmare city. Below us the primal Cyclopean masonry spread 
out as it had done when first we saw it, and we began rising and turning to test 
the wind for our crossing through the pass. At a very high level there must have 
been great disturbance, since the ice-dust clouds of the zenith were doing all 
sorts of fantastic things; but at twenty-four thousand feet, the height we needed 
for the pass, we found navigation quite practicable. As we drew close to the 
jutting peaks the wind's strange piping again became manifest, and I could see 
Danforth's hands trembling at the controls. Rank amateur that I was, I thought at 
that moment that I might be a better navigator than he in effecting the dangerous 
crossing between pinnacles; and when I made motions to change seats and take 
over his duties he did not protest. I tried to keep all my skill and self-possession 
about me, and stared at the sector of reddish farther sky betwixt the walls of the 
pass-resolutely refusing to pay attention to the puffs of mountain-top vapor, and 



89 



wishing that I had wax-stopped ears hke Ulysses' men off the Siren's coast to 
keep that disturbing windpiping from my consciousness. 

But Danforth, released from his piloting and keyed up to a dangerous nervous 
pitch, could not keep quiet. I felt him turning and wriggling about as he looked 
back at the terrible receding city, ahead at the cave- riddled, cube-barnacled 
peaks, sidewise at the bleak sea of snowy, rampart-strewn foothills, and upward 
at the seething, grotesquely clouded sky. It was then, just as I was trying to steer 
safely through the pass, that his mad shrieking brought us so close to disaster by 
shattering my tight hold on myself and causing me to fumble helplessly with the 
controls for a moment. A second afterward my resolution triumphed and we 
made the crossing safely - yet I am afraid that Danforth will never be -the same 
again. 

I have said that Danforth refused to tell me what final horror made him scream 
out so insanely-a horror which, I feel sadly sure, is mainly responsible for his 
present breakdown. We had snatches of shouted conversation above the wind's 
piping and the engine's buzzing as we reached the safe side of the range and 
swooped slowly down toward the camp, but that had mostly to do with the 
pledges of secrecy we had made as we prepared to leave the nightmare city. 
Certain things, we had agreed, were not for people to know and discuss lightly- 
and I would not speak of them now but for the need of heading off that 
Starkweather-Moore Expedition, and others, at any cost. It is absolutely 
necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth's dark, dead 
corners and unplumbed depths be let alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to 
resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out 
of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests. 

All that Danforth has ever hinted is that the final horror was a mirage. It was not, 
he declares, anything connected with the cubes and caves of those echoing, 
vaporous, wormily-honeycombed mountains of madness which we crossed; but 
a single fantastic, demoniac glimpse, among the churning zenith clouds, of what 
lay back of those other violet westward mountains which the Old Ones had 
shunned and feared. It is very probable that the thing was a sheer delusion born 
of the previous stresses we had passed through, and of the actual though 
unrecognized mirage of the dead transmontane city experienced near Lake's 
camp the day before; but it was so real to Danforth that he suffers from it still. 

He has on rare occasions whispered disjointed and irresponsible things about 
"The black pit," "the carven rim," "the protoShoggoths," "the windowless solids 
with five dimensions," "the nameless cylinder," "the elder Pharos," "Yog- 
Sothoth," "the primal white jelly," "the color out of space," "the wings," "the 
eyes in darkness," "the moon-ladder," "the original, the eternal, the undying," 



90 



and other bizarre conceptions; but when he is fully himself he repudiates all this 
and attributes it to his curious and macabre reading of earlier years. Danforth, 
indeed, is known to be among the few who have ever dared go completely 
through that worm-riddled copy of the Necronomicon kept under lock and key 
in the college library. 

The higher sky, as we crossed the range, was surely vaporous and disturbed 
enough; and although I did not see the zenith, I can well imagine that its swirls 
of ice dust may have taken strange forms. Imagination, knowing how vividly 
distant scenes can sometimes be reflected, refracted, and magnified by such 
layers of restless cloud, might easily have supplied the rest - and, of course, 
Danforth did not hint any of these specific horrors till after his memory had had 
a chance to draw on his bygone reading. He could never have seen so much in 
one instantaneous glance. 

At the time, his shrieks were confined to the repetition of a single, mad word of 
all too obvious source: "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" 



91 



Azathoth 



Written June 1922 

Published 1938 in Leaves, Vol. 2: p. 107. 

When age fell upon the world, and wonder went out of the minds of men; when 
grey cities reared to smoky skies tall towers grim and ugly, in whose shadow 
none might dream of the sun or of Spring's flowering meads; when learning 
stripped the Earth of her mantle of beauty and poets sang no more of twisted 
phantoms seen with bleared and inward looking eyes; when these things had 
come to pass, and childish hopes had gone forever, there was a man who 
traveled out of life on a quest into spaces whither the world's dreams had fled. 

Of the name and abode of this man little is written, for they were of the waking 
world only; yet it is said that both were obscure. It is enough to say that he dwelt 
in a city of high walls where sterile twilight reigned, that he toiled all day among 
shadow and turmoil, coming home at evening to a room whose one window 
opened not to open fields and groves but on to a dim court where other windows 
stared in dull despair. From that casement one might see only walls and 
windows, except sometimes when one leaned so far out and peered at the small 
stars that passed. And because mere walls and windows must soon drive a man 
to madness who dreams and reads much, the dweller in that roOm used night 
after night to lean out and peer aloft to glimpse some fragment of things beyond 
the waking world and the tall cities. After years he began to call the slow sailing 
stars by name, and to follow them in fancy when they glided regretfully out of 
sight; till at length his vision opened to many secret vistas whose existance no 
common eye suspected. And one night a mighty gulf was bridged, and the 
dream haunted skies swelled down to the lonely watcher's window to merge 
with the close air of his room and to make him a part of their fabulous wonder. 

There came to that room wild streams of violet midnight glittering with dust of 
gold, vortices of dust and fire, swirling out of the ultimate spaces and heavy 
perfumes from beyond the worlds. Opiate oceans poured there, litten by suns 
that the eye may never behold and having in their whirlpools strange dolphins 
and sea-nymphs of unrememberable depths. Noiseless infinity eddied around 
the dreamer and wafted him away without touching the body that leaned stiffly 
from the lonely window; and for days not counted in men's calandars the tides 
of far spheres that bore him gently to join the course of other cycles that tenderly 
left him sleeping on a green sunrise shore, a green shore fragrant with lotus 
blossums and starred by red camalotes... 



92 



Beyond the Wall of Sleep 

Written 1919 

Published October 1919 in Pine Cones, Vol. 1, No. 6, p. 2-10 

I have often wondered if the majority of mankind ever pause to reflect upon the 
occasionally titanic significance of dreams, and of the obscure world to which 
they belong. Whilst the greater number of our nocturnal visions are perhaps no 
more than faint and fantastic reflections of our waking experiences - Freud to the 
contrary with his puerile symbolism - there are still a certain remainder whose 
immundane and ethereal character permit of no ordinary interpretation, and 
whose vaguely exciting and disquieting effect suggests possible minute glimpses 
into a sphere of mental existence no less important than physical life, yet 
separated from that life by an all but impassable barrier. From my experience I 
cannot doubt but that man, when lost to terrestrial consciousness, is indeed 
sojourning in another and uncorporeal life of far different nature from the life we 
know, and of which only the slightest and most indistinct memories linger after 
waking. From those blurred and fragmentary memories we may infer much, yet 
prove little. We may guess that in dreams life, matter, and vitality, as the earth 
knows such things, are not necessarily constant; and that time and space do not 
exist as our waking selves comprehend them. Sometimes I believe that this less 
material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe 
is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon. 

It was from a youthful revery filled with speculations of this sort that I arose one 
afternoon in the winter of 1900-01, when to the state psychopathic institution in 
which I served as an intern was brought the man whose case has ever since 
haunted me so unceasingly. His name, as given on the records, was Joe Slater, or 
Slaader, and his appearance was that of the typical denizen of the Catskill 
Mountain region; one of those strange, repellent scions of a primitive Colonial 
peasant stock whose isolation for nearly three centuries in the hilly fastnesses of 
a little-traveled countryside has caused them to sink to a kind of barbaric 
degeneracy, rather than advance with their more fortunately placed brethren of 
the thickly settled districts. Among these odd folk, who correspond exactly to the 
decadent element of "white trash" in the South, law and morals are non-existent; 
and their general mental status is probably below that of any other section of 
native American people. 

Joe Slater, who came to the institution in the vigilant custody of four state 
policemen, and who was described as a highly dangerous character, certainly 
presented no evidence of his perilous disposition when I first beheld him. 



93 



Though well above the middle stature, and of somewhat brawny frame, he was 
given an absurd appearance of harmless stupidity by the pale, sleepy blueness of 
his small watery eyes, the scantiness of his neglected and never-shaven growth 
of yellow beard, and the listless drooping of his heavy nether lip. His age was 
unknown, since among his kind neither family records nor permanent family ties 
exist; but from the baldness of his head in front, and from the decayed condition 
of his teeth, the head surgeon wrote him down as a man of about forty. 

From the medical and court documents we learned all that could be gathered of 
his case: this man, a vagabond, hunter and trapper, had always been strange in 
the eyes of his primitive associates. He had habitually slept at night beyond the 
ordinary time, and upon waking would often talk of unknown things in a 
manner so bizarre as to inspire fear even in the hearts of an unimaginative 
populace. Not that his form of language was at all unusual, for he never spoke 
save in the debased patois of his environment; but the tone and tenor of his 
utterances were of such mysterious wildness, that none might listen without 
apprehension. He himself was generally as terrified and baffled as his auditors, 
and within an hour after awakening would forget all that he had said, or at least 
all that had caused him to say what he did; relapsing into a bovine, half-amiable 
normality like that of the other hilldwellers. 

As Slater grew older, it appeared, his matutinal aberrations had gradually 
increased in frequency and violence; till about a month before his arrival at the 
institution had occurred the shocking tragedy which caused his arrest by the 
authorities. One day near noon, after a profound sleep begun in a whiskey 
debauch at about five of the previous afternoon, the man had roused himself 
most suddenly, with ululations so horrible and unearthly that they brought 
several neighbors to his cabin - a filthy sty where he dwelt with a family as 
indescribable as himself. Rushing out into the snow, he had flung his arms aloft 
and commenced a series of leaps directly upward in the air; the while shouting 
his determination to reach some "big, big cabin with brightness in the roof and 
walls and floor and the loud queer music far away". As two men of moderate 
size sought to restrain him, he had struggled with maniacal force and fury, 
screaming of his desire and need to find and kill a certain "thing that shines and 
shakes and laughs". At length, after temporarily felling one of his detainers with 
a sudden blow, he had flung himself upon the other in a demoniac ecstasy of 
blood-thirstiness, shrieking fiendishly that he would "jump high in the air and 
burn his way through anything that stopped him". 

Family and neighbors had now fled in a panic, and when the more courageous of 
them returned. Slater was gone, leaving behind an unrecognizable pulp-like 
thing that had been a living man but an hour before. None of the mountaineers 
had dared to pursue him, and it is likely that they would have welcomed his 



94 



death from the cold; but when several mornings later they heard his screams 
from a distant ravine they realized that he had somehow managed to survive, 
and that his removal in one way or another would be necessary. Then had 
followed an armed searching-party, whose purpose (whatever it may have been 
originally) became that of a sheriff's posse after one of the seldom popular state 
troopers had by accident observed, then questioned, and finally joined the 
seekers. 

On the third day Slater was found unconscious in the hollow of a tree, and taken 
to the nearest jail, where alienists from Albany examined him as soon as his 
senses returned. To them he told a simple story. He had, he said, gone to sleep 
one afternoon about sundown after drinking much liquor. He had awakened to 
find himself standing bloody-handed in the snow before his cabin, the mangled 
corpse of his neighbor Peter Slader at his feet. Horrified, he had taken to the 
woods in a vague effort to escape from the scene of what must have been his 
crime. Beyond these things he seemed to know nothing, nor could the expert 
questioning of his interrogators bring out a single additional fact. 

That night Slater slept quietly, and the next morning he awakened with no 
singular feature save a certain alteration of expression. Doctor Barnard, who had 
been watching the patient, thought he noticed in the pale blue eyes a certain 
gleam of peculiar quality, and in the flaccid lips an all but imperceptible 
tightening, as if of intelligent determination. But when questioned. Slater 
relapsed into the habitual vacancy of the mountaineer, and only reiterated what 
he had said on the preceding day. 

On the third morning occurred the first of the man's mental attacks. After some 
show of uneasiness in sleep, he burst forth into a frenzy so powerful that the 
combined efforts of four men were needed to bind him in a straightjacket. The 
alienists listened with keen attention to his words, since their curiosity had been 
aroused to a high pitch by the suggestive yet mostly conflicting and incoherent 
stories of his family and neighbors. Slater raved for upward of fifteen minutes, 
babbling in his backwoods dialect of green edifices of light, oceans of space, 
strange music, and shadowy mountains and valleys. But most of all did he dwell 
upon some mysterious blazing entity that shook and laughed and mocked at 
him. This vast, vague personality seemed to have done him a terrible wrong, and 
to kill it in triumphant revenge was his paramount desire. In order to reach it, he 
said, he would soar through abysses of emptiness, burning every obstacle that 
stood in his way. Thus ran his discourse, until with the greatest suddenness he 
ceased. The fire of madness died from his eyes, and in dull wonder he looked at 
his questioners and asked why he was bound. Dr. Barnard unbuckled the leather 
harness and did not restore it till night, when he succeeded in persuading Slater 



95 



to don it of his own volition, for his own good. The man had now admitted that 
he sometimes talked queerly, though he knew not why. 

Within a week two more attacks appeared, but from them the doctors learned 
little. On the source of Slater's visions they speculated at length, for since he 
could neither read nor write, and had apparently never heard a legend or fairy- 
tale, his gorgeous imagery was quite inexplicable. That it could not come from 
any known myth or romance was made especially clear by the fact that the 
unfortunate lunatic expressed himself only in his own simple manner. He raved 
of things he did not understand and could not interpret; things which he claimed 
to have experienced, but which he could not have learned through any normal or 
connected narration. The alienists soon agreed that abnormal dreams were the 
foundation of the trouble; dreams whose vividness could for a time completely 
dominate the waking mind of this basically inferior man. With due formality 
Slater was tried for murder, acquitted on the ground of insanity, and committed 
to the institution wherein I held so humble a post. 

I have said that I am a constant speculator concerning dream-life, and from this 
you may judge of the eagerness with which I applied myself to the study of the 
new patient as soon as I had fully ascertained the facts of his case. He seemed to 
sense a certain friendliness in me, born no doubt of the interest I could not 
conceal, and the gentle manner in which I questioned him. Not that he ever 
recognized me during his attacks, when I hung breathlessly upon his chaotic but 
cosmic word-pictures; but he knew me in his quiet hours, when he would sit by 
his barred window weaving baskets of straw and willow, and perhaps pining for 
the mountain freedom he could never again enjoy. His family never called to see 
him; probably it had found another temporary head, after the manner of 
decadent mountain folk. 

By degrees I commenced to feel an overwhelming wonder at the mad and 
fantastic conceptions of Joe Slater. The man himself was pitiably inferior in 
mentality and language alike; but his glowing, titanic visions, though described 
in a barbarous disjointed jargon, were assuredly things which only a superior or 
even exceptional brain could conceive How, I often asked myself, could the 
stolid imagination of a Catskill degenerate conjure up sights whose very 
possession argued a lurking spark of genius? How could any backwoods dullard 
have gained so much as an idea of those glittering realms of supernal radiance 
and space about which Slater ranted in his furious delirium? More and more I 
inclined to the belief that in the pitiful personality who cringed before me lay the 
disordered nucleus of something beyond my comprehension; something 
infinitely beyond the comprehension of my more experienced but less 
imaginative medical and scientific colleagues. 



96 



And yet I could extract nothing definite from the man. The sum of all my 
investigation was, that in a kind of semi-corporeal dream-life Slater wandered or 
floated through resplendent and prodigious valleys, meadows, gardens, cities, 
and palaces of light, in a region unbounded and unknown to man; that there he 
was no peasant or degenerate, but a creature of importance and vivid life, 
moving proudly and dominantly, and checked only by a certain deadly enemy, 
who seemed to be a being of visible yet ethereal structure, and who did not 
appear to be of human shape, since Slater never referred to it as a man, or as 
aught save a thing. This thing had done Slater some hideous but unnamed 
wrong, which the maniac (if maniac he were) yearned to avenge. 

From the manner in which Slater alluded to their dealings, I judged that he and 
the luminous thing had met on equal terms; that in his dream existence the man 
was himself a luminous thing of the same race as his enemy. This impression 
was sustained by his frequent references to flying through space and burning all 
that impeded his progress. Yet these conceptions were formulated in rustic 
words wholly inadequate to convey them, a circumstance which drove me to the 
conclusion that if a dream world indeed existed, oral language was not its 
medium for the transmission of thought. Could it be that the dream soul 
inhabiting this inferior body was desperately struggling to speak things which 
the simple and halting tongue of dullness could not utter? Could it be that I was 
face to face with intellectual emanations which would explain the mystery if I 
could but learn to discover and read them? I did not tell the older physicians of 
these things, for middle age is skeptical, cynical, and disinclined to accept new 
ideas. Besides, the head of the institution had but lately warned me in his 
paternal way that I was overworking; that my mind needed a rest. 

It had long been my belief that human thought consists basically of atomic or 
molecular motion, convertible into ether waves or radiant energy like heat, light 
and electricity. This belief had early led me to contemplate the possibility of 
telepathy or mental communication by means of suitable apparatus, and I had in 
my college days prepared a set of transmitting and receiving instruments 
somewhat similar to the cumbrous devices employed in wireless telegraphy at 
that crude, pre-radio period. These I had tested with a fellow-student, but 
achieving no result, had soon packed them away with other scientific odds and 
ends for possible future use. 

Now, in my intense desire to probe into the dream-life of Joe Slater, I sought 
these instruments again, and spent several days in repairing them for action. 
When they were complete once more I missed no opportunity for their trial. At 
each outburst of Slater's violence, I would fit the transmitter to his forehead and 
the receiver to my own, constantly making delicate adjustments for various 
hypothetical wave- lengths of intellectual energy. I had but little notion of how 



97 



the thought-impressions would, if successfully conveyed, arouse an intelligent 
response in my brain, but I felt certain that I could detect and interpret them. 
Accordingly I continued my experiments, though informing no one of their 
nature. 

It was on the twenty-first of February, 1901, that the thing occurred. As I look 
back across the years I realize how unreal it seems, and sometimes wonder if old 
Doctor Fenton was not right when he charged it all to my excited imagination. I 
recall that he listened with great kindness and patience when I told him, but 
afterward gave me a nerve-powder and arranged for the half-year's vacation on 
which I departed the next week. 

That fateful night I was wildly agitated and perturbed, for despite the excellent 
care he had received, Joe Slater was unmistakably dying. Perhaps it was his 
mountain freedom that he missed, or perhaps the turmoil in his brain had grown 
too acute for his rather sluggish physique; but at all events the flame of vitality 
flickered low in the decadent body. He was drowsy near the end, and as 
darkness fell he dropped off into a troubled sleep. 

I did not strap on the straightjacket as was customary when he slept, since I saw 
that he was too feeble to be dangerous, even if he woke in mental disorder once 
more before passing away. But I did place upon his head and mine the two ends 
of my cosmic "radio", hoping against hope for a first and last message from the 
dream world in the brief time remaining. In the cell with us was one nurse, a 
mediocre fellow who did not understand the purpose of the apparatus, or think 
to inquire into my course. As the hours wore on I saw his head droop 
awkwardly in sleep, but I did not disturb him. I myself, lulled by the rhythmical 
breathing of the healthy and the dying man, must have nodded a little later. 

The sound of weird lyric melody was what aroused me. Chords, vibrations, and 
harmonic ecstasies echoed passionately on every hand, while on my ravished 
sight burst the stupendous spectacle ultimate beauty. Walls, columns, and 
architraves of living fire blazed effulgently around the spot where I seemed to 
float in air, extending upward to an infinitely high vaulted dome of indescribable 
splendor. Blending with this display of palatial magnificence, or rather, 
supplanting it at times in kaleidoscopic rotation, were glimpses of wide plains 
and graceful valleys, high mountains and inviting grottoes, covered with every 
lovely attribute of scenery which my delighted eyes could conceive of, yet 
formed wholly of some glowing, ethereal plastic entity, which in consistency 
partook as much of spirit as of matter. As I gazed, I perceived that my own brain 
held the key to these enchanting metamorphoses; for each vista which appeared 
to me was the one my changing mind most wished to behold. Amidst this 
elysian realm I dwelt not as a stranger, for each sight and sound was familiar to 



98 



me; just as it had been for uncounted eons of eternity before, and would be for 
like eternities to come. 

Then the resplendent aura of my brother of light drew near and held colloquy 
with me, soul to soul, with silent and perfect interchange of thought. The hour 
was one of approaching triumph, for was not my fellow-being escaping at last 
from a degrading periodic bondage; escaping forever, and preparing to follow 
the accursed oppressor even unto the uttermost fields of ether, that upon it might 
be wrought a flaming cosmic vengeance which would shake the spheres? We 
floated thus for a little time, when I perceived a slight blurring and fading of the 
objects around us, as though some force were recalling me to earth - where I least 
wished to go. The form near me seemed to feel a change also, for it gradually 
brought its discourse toward a conclusion, and itself prepared to quit the scene, 
fading from my sight at a rate somewhat less rapid than that of the other objects. 
A few more thoughts were exchanged, and I knew that the luminous one and I 
were being recalled to bondage, though for my brother of light it would be the 
last time. The sorry planet shell being well-nigh spent, in less than an hour my 
fellow would be free to pursue the oppressor along the Milky Way and past the 
hither stars to the very confines of infinity. 

A well-defined shock separates my final impression of the fading scene of light 
from my sudden and somewhat shamefaced awakening and straightening up in 
my chair as I saw the dying figure on the couch move hesitantly. Joe Slater was 
indeed awaking, though probably for the last time. As I looked more closely, I 
saw that in the sallow cheeks shone spots of color which had never before been 
present. The lips, too, seemed unusual, being tightly compressed, as if by the 
force of a stronger character than had been Slater's. The whole face finally began 
to grow tense, and the head turned restlessly with closed eyes. 

I did not rouse the sleeping nurse, but readjusted the slightly disarranged 
headband of my telepathic "radio", intent to catch any parting message the 
dreamer might have to deliver. All at once the head turned sharply in my 
direction and the eyes fell open, causing me to stare in blank amazement at what 
I beheld. The man who had been Joe Slater, the Catskill decadent, was gazing at 
me with a pair of luminous, expanding eyes whose blue seemed subtly to have 
deepened. Neither mania nor degeneracy was visible in that gaze, and I felt 
beyond a doubt that I was viewing a face behind which lay an active mind of 
high order. 

At this juncture my brain became aware of a steady external influence operating 
upon it. I closed my eyes to concentrate my thoughts more profoundly and was 
rewarded by the positive knowledge that my long-sought mental message had 
come at last. Each transmitted idea formed rapidly in my mind, and though no 



99 



actual language was employed, my habitual association of conception and 
expression was so great that I seemed to be receiving the message in ordinary 
English. 

"Joe Slater is dead/' came the soul-petrifying voice of an agency from beyond the 
wall of sleep. My opened eyes sought the couch of pain in curious horror, but the 
blue eyes were still calmly gazing, and the countenance was still intelligently 
animated. "He is better dead, for he was unfit to bear the active intellect of 
cosmic entity. His gross body could not undergo the needed adjustments 
between ethereal life and planet life. He was too much an animal, too little a 
man; yet it is through his deficiency that you have come to discover me, for the 
cosmic and planet souls rightly should never meet. He has been in my torment 
and diurnal prison for forty-two of your terrestrial years. 

"I am an entity like that which you yourself become in the freedom of dreamless 
sleep. I am your brother of light, and have floated with you in the effulgent 
valleys. It is not permitted me to tell your waking earth-self of your real self, but 
we are all roamers of vast spaces and travelers in many ages. Next year I may be 
dwelling in the Egypt which you call ancient, or in the cruel empire of Tsan Chan 
which is to come three thousand years hence. You and I have drifted to the 
worlds that reel about the red Arcturus, and dwelt in the bodies of the insect- 
philosophers that crawl proudly over the fourth moon of Jupiter. How little does 
the earth self know life and its extent! How little, indeed, ought it to know for its 
own tranquility! 

"Of the oppressor I cannot speak. You on earth have unwittingly felt its distant 
presence - you who without knowing idly gave the blinking beacon the name of 
Algol, the Demon-Star. It is to meet and conquer the oppressor that I have vainly 
striven for eons, held back by bodily encumbrances. Tonight I go as a Nemesis 
bearing just and blazingly cataclysmic vengeance. Watch me in the sky close by 
the Demon-Star. 

"I cannot speak longer, for the body of Joe Slater grows cold and rigid, and the 
coarse brains are ceasing to vibrate as I wish. You have been my only friend on 
this planet - the only soul to sense and seek for me within the repellent form 
which lies on this couch. We shall meet again - perhaps in the shining mists of 
Orion's Sword, perhaps on a bleak plateau in prehistoric Asia, perhaps in 
unremembered dreams tonight, perhaps in some other form an eon hence, when 
the solar system shall have been swept away." 

At this point the thought-waves abruptly ceased, the pale eyes of the dreamer - 
or can I say dead man? - commenced to glaze fishily. In a half-stupor I crossed 
over to the couch and felt of his wrist, but found it cold, stiff, and pulseless. The 



100 



sallow cheeks paled again, and the thick lips fell open, disclosing the repulsively 
rotten fangs of the degenerate Joe Slater. I shivered, pulled a blanket over the 
hideous face, and awakened the nurse. Then I left the cell and went silently to 
my room. I had an instant and unaccountable craving for a sleep whose dreams I 
should not remember. 

The climax? What plain tale of science can boast of such a rhetorical effect? I have 
merely set down certain things appealing to me as facts, allowing you to 
construe them as you will. As I have already admitted, my superior, old Doctor 
Fenton, denies the reality of everything I have related. He vows that I was 
broken down with nervous strain, and badly in need of a long vacation on full 
pay which he so generously gave me. He assures me on his professional honor 
that Joe Slater was but a low-grade paranoiac, whose fantastic notions must have 
come from the crude hereditary folk-tales which circulated in even the most 
decadent of communities. All this he tells me - yet I cannot forget what I saw in 
the sky on the night after Slater died. Lest you think me a biased witness, another 
pen must add this final testimony, which may perhaps supply the climax you 
expect. I will quote the following account of the star Nova Persei verbatim from 
the pages of that eminent astronomical authority. Professor Garrett P. Serviss: 

"On February 22, 1901, a marvelous new star was discovered by Doctor 
Anderson of Edinburgh, not very far from Algol. No star had been visible at that 
point before. Within twenty-four hours the stranger had become so bright that it 
outshone Capella. In a week or two it had visibly faded, and in the course of a 
few months it was hardly discernible with the naked eye 



101 



Celephais 



Written early Nov 1920 

Published May 1922 in The Rainbow, No. 2, p. 10-12. 

In a dream Kuranes saw the city in the valley, and the seacoast beyond, and the 
snowy peak overlooking the sea, and the gaily painted galleys that sail out of the 
harbour toward distant regions where the sea meets the sky. In a dream it was 
also that he came by his name of Kuranes, for when awake he was called by 
another name. Perhaps it was natural for him to dream a new name; for he was 
the last of his family, and alone among the indifferent millions of London, so 
there were not many to speak to him and to remind him who he had been. His 
money and lands were gone, and he did not care for the ways of the people 
about him, but preferred to dream and write of his dreams. What he wrote was 
laughed at by those to whom he showed it, so that after a time he kept his 
writings to himself, and finally ceased to write. The more he withdrew from the 
world about him, the more wonderful became his dreams; and it would have 
been quite futile to try to describe them on paper. Kuranes was not modern, and 
did not think like others who wrote. Whilst they strove to strip from life its 
embroidered robes of myth and to show in naked ugliness the foul thing that is 
reality, Kuranes sought for beauty alone. When truth and experience failed to 
reveal it, he sought it in fancy and illusion, and found it on his very doorstep, 
amid the nebulous memories of childhood tales and dreams. 

There are not many persons who know what wonders are opened to them in the 
stories and visions of their youth; for when as children we listen and dream, we 
think but half-formed thoughts, and when as men we try to remember, we are 
dulled and prosaic with the poison of life. But some of us awake in the night with 
strange phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens, of fountains that sing in the 
sun, of golden cliffs overhanging murmuring seas, of plains that stretch down to 
sleeping cities of bronze and stone, and of shadowy companies of heroes that 
ride caparisoned white horses along the edges of thick forests; and then we know 
that we have looked back through the ivory gates into that world of wonder 
which was ours before we were wise and unhappy. 

Kuranes came very suddenly upon his old world of childhood. He had been 
dreaming of the house where he had been born; the great stone house covered 
with ivy, where thirteen generations of his ancestors had lived, and where he 
had hoped to die. It was moonlight, and he had stolen out into the fragrant 
summer night, through the gardens, down the terraces, past the great oaks of the 
park, and along the long white road to the village. The village seemed very old. 



102 



eaten away at the edge like the moon which had commenced to wane, and 
Kuranes wondered whether the peaked roofs of the small houses hid sleep or 
death. In the streets were spears of long grass, and the window-panes on either 
side broken or filmily staring. Kuranes had not lingered, but had plodded on as 
though summoned toward some goal. He dared not disobey the summons for 
fear it might prove an illusion like the urges and aspirations of waking life, 
which do not lead to any goal. Then he had been drawn down a lane that led off 
from the village street toward the channel cliffs, and had come to the end of 
things to the precipice and the abyss where all the village and all the world fell 
abruptly into the unechoing emptiness of infinity, and where even the sky ahead 
was empty and unlit by the crumbling moon and the peering stars. Faith had 
urged him on, over the precipice and into the gulf, where he had floated down, 
down, down; past dark, shapeless, undreamed dreams, faintly glowing spheres 
that may have been partly dreamed dreams, and laughing winged things that 
seemed to mock the dreamers of all the worlds. Then a rift seemed to open in the 
darkness before him, and he saw the city of the valley, glistening radiantly far, 
far below, with a background of sea and sky, and a snowcapped mountain near 
the shore. 

Kuranes had awakened the very moment he beheld the city, yet he knew from 
his brief glance that it was none other than Celephais, in the Valley of Ooth- 
Nargai beyond the Tanarian Hills where his spirit had dwelt all the eternity of an 
hour one summer afternoon very long ago, when he had slipt away from his 
nurse and let the warm sea-breeze lull him to sleep as he watched the clouds 
from the cliff near the village. He had protested then, when they had found him, 
waked him, and carried him home, for just as he was aroused he had been about 
to sail in a golden galley for those alluring regions where the sea meets the sky. 
And now he was equally resentful of awaking, for he had found his fabulous city 
after forty weary years. 

But three nights afterward Kuranes came again to Celephais. As before, he 
dreamed first of the village that was asleep or dead, and of the abyss down 
which one must float silently; then the rift appeared again, and he beheld the 
glittering minarets of the city, and saw the graceful galleys riding at anchor in 
the blue harbour, and watched the gingko trees of Mount Aran swaying in the 
sea-breeze. But this time he was not snatched away, and like a winged being 
settled gradually over a grassy hillside till finally his feet rested gently on the 
turf. He had indeed come back to the Valley of Ooth-Nargai and the splendid 
city of Celephais. 

Down the hill amid scented grasses and brilliant flowers walked Kuranes, over 
the bubbling Naraxa on the small wooden bridge where he had carved his name 
so many years ago, and through the whispering grove to the great stone bridge 



103 



by the city gate. All was as of old, nor were the marble walls discoloured, nor the 
polished bronze statues upon them tarnished. And Kuranes saw that he need not 
tremble lest the things he knew be vanished; for even the sentries on the 
ramparts were the same, and still as young as he remembered them. When he 
entered the city, past the bronze gates and over the onyx pavements, the 
merchants and camel-drivers greeted him as if he had never been away; and it 
was the same at the turquoise temple of Nath-Horthath, where the orchid- 
wreathed priests told him that there is no time in Ooth-Nargai, but only 
perpetual youth. Then Kuranes walked through the Street of Pillars to the 
seaward wall, where gathered the traders and sailors, and strange men from the 
regions where the sea meets the sky. There he stayed long, gazing out over the 
bright harbour where the ripples sparkled beneath an unknown sun, and where 
rode lightly the galleys from far places over the water. And he gazed also upon 
Mount Aran rising regally from the shore, its lower slopes green with swaying 
trees and its white summit touching the sky. 

More than ever Kuranes wished to sail in a galley to the far places of which he 
had heard so many strange tales, and he sought again the captain who had 
agreed to carry him so long ago. He found the man, Athib, sitting on the same 
chest of spice he had sat upon before, and Athib seemed not to realize that any 
time had passed. Then the two rowed to a galley in the harbour, and giving 
orders to the oarmen, commenced to sail out into the billowy Cerenarian Sea that 
leads to the sky. For several days they glided undulatingly over the water, till 
finally they came to the horizon, where the sea meets the sky. Here the galley 
paused not at all, but floated easily in the blue of the sky among fleecy clouds 
tinted with rose. And far beneath the keel Kuranes could see strange lands and 
rivers and cities of surpassing beauty, spread indolently in the sunshine which 
seemed never to lessen or disappear. At length Athib told him that their journey 
was near its end, and that they would soon enter the harbour of Serannian, the 
pink marble city of the clouds, which is built on that ethereal coast where the 
west wind flows into the sky; but as the highest of the city's carven towers came 
into sight there was a sound somewhere in space, and Kuranes awaked in his 
London garret. 

For many months after that Kuranes sought the marvellous city of Celephais and 
its sky-bound galleys in vain; and though his dreams carried him to many 
gorgeous and unheard-of places, no one whom he met could tell him how to find 
Ooth-Nargai beyond the Tanarian Hills. One night he went flying over dark 
mountains where there were faint, lone campfires at great distances apart, and 
strange, shaggy herds with tinkling bells on the leaders, and in the wildest part 
of this hilly country, so remote that few men could ever have seen it, he found a 
hideously ancient wall or causeway of stone zigzagging along the ridges and 
valleys; too gigantic ever to have risen by human hands, and of such a length 



104 



that neither end of it could be seen. Beyond that wall in the grey dawn he came 
to a land of quaint gardens and cherry trees, and when the sun rose he beheld 
such beauty of red and white flowers, green foliage and lawns, white paths, 
diamond brooks, blue lakelets, carven bridges, and red-roofed pagodas, that he 
for a moment forgot Celephais in sheer delight. But he remembered it again 
when he walked down a white path toward a red-roofed pagoda, and would 
have questioned the people of this land about it, had he not found that there 
were no people there, but only birds and bees and butterflies. On another night 
Kuranes walked up a damp stone spiral stairway endlessly, and came to a tower 
window overlooking a mighty plain and river lit by the full moon; and in the 
silent city that spread away from the river bank he thought he beheld some 
feature or arrangement which he had known before. He would have descended 
and asked the way to Ooth-Nargai had not a fearsome aurora sputtered up from 
some remote place beyond the horizon, showing the ruin and antiquity of the 
city, and the stagnation of the reedy river, and the death lying upon that land, as 
it had lain since King Kynaratholis came home from his conquests to find the 
vengeance of the gods. 

So Kuranes sought fruitlessly for the marvellous city of Celephais and its galleys 
that sail to Serannian in the sky, meanwhile seeing many wonders and once 
barely escaping from the high-priest not to be described, which wears a yellow 
silken mask over its face and dwells all alone in a prehistoric stone monastery in 
the cold desert plateau of Leng. In time he grew so impatient of the bleak 
intervals of day that he began buying drugs in order to increase his periods of 
sleep. Hasheesh helped a great deal, and once sent him to a part of space where 
form does not exist, but where glowing gases study the secrets of existence. And 
a violet-coloured gas told him that this part of space was outside what he had 
called infinity. The gas had not heard of planets and organisms before, but 
identified Kuranes merely as one from the infinity where matter, energy, and 
gravitation exist. Kuranes was now very anxious to return to minaret-studded 
Celephais, and increased his doses of drugs; but eventually he had no more 
money left, and could buy no drugs. Then one summer day he was turned out of 
his garret, and wandered aimlessly through the streets, drifting over a bridge to a 
place where the houses grew thinner and thinner. And it was there that 
fulfillment came, and he met the cortege of knights come from Celephais to bear 
him thither forever. 

Handsome knights they were, astride roan horses and clad in shining armour 
with tabards of cloth-of- gold curiously emblazoned. So numerous were they, 
that Kuranes almost mistook them for an army, but they were sent in his honour; 
since it was he who had created Ooth-Nargai in his dreams, on which account he 
was now to be appointed its chief god for evermore. Then they gave Kuranes a 
horse and placed him at the head of the cavalcade, and all rode majestically 



105 



through the downs of Surrey and onward toward the region where Kuranes and 
his ancestors were born. It was very strange, but as the riders went on they 
seemed to gallop back through Time; for whenever they passed through a village 
in the twilight they saw only such houses and villagers as Chaucer or men before 
him might have seen, and sometimes they saw knights on horseback with small 
companies of retainers. When it grew dark they travelled more swiftly, till soon 
they were flying uncannily as if in the air. In the dim dawn they came upon the 
village which Kuranes had seen alive in his childhood, and asleep or dead in his 
dreams. It was alive now, and early villagers curtsied as the horsemen clattered 
down the street and turned off into the lane that ends in the abyss of dreams. 
Kuranes had previously entered that abyss only at night, and wondered what it 
would look like by day; so he watched anxiously as the column approached its 
brink. Just as they galloped up the rising ground to the precipice a golden glare 
came somewhere out of the west and hid all the landscape in effulgent draperies. 
The abyss was a seething chaos of roseate and cerulean splendour, and invisible 
voices sang exultantly as the knightly entourage plunged over the edge and 
floated gracefully down past glittering clouds and silvery coruscations. Endlessly 
down the horsemen floated, their chargers pawing the aether as if galloping over 
golden sands; and then the luminous vapours spread apart to reveal a greater 
brightness, the brightness of the city Celephais, and the sea coast beyond, and the 
snowy peak overlooking the sea, and the gaily painted galleys that sail out of the 
harbour toward distant regions where the sea meets the sky. 

And Kuranes reigned thereafter over Ooth-Nargai and all the neighboring 
regions of dream, and held his court alternately in Celephais and in the cloud- 
fashioned Serannian. He reigns there still, and will reign happily for ever, though 
below the cliffs at Innsmouth the channel tides played mockingly with the body 
of a tramp who had stumbled through the half-deserted village at dawn; played 
mockingly, and cast it upon the rocks by ivy-covered Trevor Towers, where a 
notably fat and especially offensive millionaire brewer enjoys the purchased 
atmosphere of extinct nobility. 



106 



Cool Air 



Written March 1926 

Published March 1928 in Tales of Magic and Mystery, Vol. 1, No. 4, 29-34. 

You ask me to explain why I am afraid of a draught of cool air; why I shiver 
more than others upon entering a cold room, and seem nauseated and repelled 
when the chill of evening creeps through the heat of a mild autumn day. There 
are those who say I respond to cold as others do to a bad odour, and I am the last 
to deny the impression. What I will do is to relate the most horrible circumstance 
I ever encountered, and leave it to you to judge whether or not this forms a 
suitable explanation of my peculiarity. 

It is a mistake to fancy that horror is associated inextricably with darkness, 
silence, and solitude. I found it in the glare of mid-afternoon, in the clangour of a 
metropolis, and in the teeming midst of a shabby and commonplace rooming- 
house with a prosaic landlady and two stalwart men by my side. In the spring of 
1923 I had secured some dreary and unprofitable magazine work in the city of 
New York; and being unable to pay any substantial rent, began drifting from one 
cheap boarding establishment to another in search of a room which might 
combine the qualities of decent cleanliness, endurable furnishings, and very 
reasonable price. It soon developed that I had only a choice between different 
evils, but after a time I came upon a house in West Fourteenth Street which 
disgusted me much less than the others I had sampled. 

The place was a four-story mansion of brownstone, dating apparently from the 
late forties, and fitted with woodwork and marble whose stained and sullied 
splendour argued a descent from high levels of tasteful opulence. In the rooms, 
large and lofty, and decorated with impossible paper and ridiculously ornate 
stucco cornices, there lingered a depressing mustiness and hint of obscure 
cookery; but the floors were clean, the linen tolerably regular, and the hot water 
not too often cold or turned off, so that I came to regard it as at least a bearable 
place to hibernate till one might really live again. The landlady, a slatternly, 
almost bearded Spanish woman named Herrero, did not annoy me with gossip 
or with criticisms of the late-burning electric light in my third-floor front hall 
room; and my fellow-lodgers were as quiet and uncommunicative as one might 
desire, being mostly Spaniards a little above the coarsest and crudest grade. Only 
the din of street cars in the thoroughfare below proved a serious annoyance. 

I had been there about three weeks when the first odd incident occurred. One 
evening at about eight I heard a spattering on the floor and became suddenly 



107 



aware that I had been smeUing the pungent odour of ammonia for some time. 
Looking about, I saw that the ceihng was wet and dripping; the soaking 
apparently proceeding from a corner on the side toward the street. Anxious to 
stop the matter at its source, I hastened to the basement to tell the landlady; and 
was assured by her that the trouble would quickly be set right. 

"Doctair Munoz," she cried as she rushed upstairs ahead of me, "he have speel 
hees chemicals. He ees too seeck for doctair heemself-seecker and seecker all the 
time-but he weel not have no othair for help. He ees vairy queer in hees 
seeckness-all day he take funnee-smelling baths, and he cannot get excite or 
warm. All hees own housework he do-hees leetle room are full of bottles and 
machines, and he do not work as doctair. But he was great once-my fathair in 
Barcelona have hear of heem-and only joost now he feex a arm of the plumber 
that get hurt of sudden. He nevair go out, only on roof, and my boy Esteban he 
breeng heem hees food and laundry and mediceens and chemicals. My Gawd, 
the sal-ammoniac that man use for keep heem cool!" 

Mrs. Herrero disappeared up the staircase to the fourth floor, and I returned to 
my room. The ammonia ceased to drip, and as I cleaned up what had spilled and 
opened the window for air, I heard the landlady's heavy footsteps above me. Dr. 
Munoz I had never heard, save for certain sounds as of some gasoline- driven 
mechanism; since his step was soft and gentle. I wondered for a moment what 
the strange affliction of this man might be, and whether his obstinate refusal of 
outside aid were not the result of a rather baseless eccentricity. There is, I 
reflected tritely, an infinite deal of pathos in the state of an eminent person who 
has come down in the world. 

I might never have known Dr. Munoz had it not been for the heart attack that 
suddenly seized me one forenoon as I sat writing in my room. Physicians had 
told me of the danger of those spells, and I knew there was no time to be lost; so 
remembering what the landlady had said about the invalid's help of the injured 
workman, I dragged myself upstairs and knocked feebly at the door above mine. 
My knock was answered in good English by a curious voice some distance to the 
right, asking my name and business; and these things being stated, there came an 
opening of the door next to the one I had sought. 

A rush of cool air greeted me; and though the day was one of the hottest of late 
June, I shivered as I crossed the threshold into a large apartment whose rich and 
tasteful decoration surprised me in this nest of squalor and seediness. A folding 
couch now filled its diurnal role of sofa, and the mahogany furniture, sumptuous 
hangings, old paintings, and mellow bookshelves all bespoke a gentleman's 
study rather than a boarding-house bedroom. I now saw that the hall room 
above mine-the "leetle room" of bottles and machines which Mrs. Herrero had 



108 



mentioned-was merely the laboratory of the doctor; and that his main living 
quarters lay in the spacious adjoining room whose convenient alcoves and large 
contiguous bathroom permitted him to hide all dressers and obtrusively 
utilitarian devices. Dr. Munoz, most certainly, was a man of birth, cultivation, 
and discrimination. 

The figure before me was short but exquisitely proportioned, and clad in 
somewhat formal dress of perfect cut and fit. A high-bred face of masterful 
though not arrogant expression was adorned by a short iron-grey full beard, and 
an old-fashioned pince-nez shielded the full, dark eyes and surmounted an 
aquiline nose which gave a Moorish touch to a physiognomy otherwise 
dominantly Celtiberian. Thick, well-trimmed hair that argued the punctual calls 
of a barber was parted gracefully above a high forehead; and the whole picture 
was one of striking intelligence and superior blood and breeding. 

Nevertheless, as I saw Dr. Munoz in that blast of cool air, I felt a repugnance 
which nothing in his aspect could justify. Only his lividly inclined complexion 
and coldness of touch could have afforded a physical basis for this feeling, and 
even these things should have been excusable considering the man's known 
invalidism. It might, too, have been the singular cold that alienated me; for such 
chilliness was abnormal on so hot a day, and the abnormal always excites 
aversion, distrust, and fear. 

But repugnance was soon forgotten in admiration, for the strange physician's 
extreme skill at once became manifest despite the ice-coldness and shakiness of 
his bloodless-looking hands. He clearly understood my needs at a glance, and 
ministered to them with a master's deftness; the while reassuring me in a finely 
modulated though oddly hollow and timbreless voice that he was the bitterest of 
sworn enemies to death, and had sunk his fortune and lost all his friends in a 
lifetime of bizarre experiment devoted to its bafflement and extirpation. 
Something of the benevolent fanatic seemed to reside in him, and he rambled on 
almost garrulously as he sounded my chest and mixed a suitable draught of 
drugs fetched from the smaller laboratory room. Evidently he found the society 
of a well-born man a rare novelty in this dingy environment, and was moved to 
unaccustomed speech as memories of better days surged over him. 

His voice, if queer, was at least soothing; and I could not even perceive that he 
breathed as the fluent sentences rolled urbanely out. He sought to distract my 
mind from my own seizure by speaking of his theories and experiments; and I 
remember his tactfully consoling me about my weak heart by insisting that will 
and consciousness are stronger than organic life itself, so that if a bodily frame be 
but originally healthy and carefully preserved, it may through a scientific 
enhancement of these qualities retain a kind of nervous animation despite the 



109 



most serious impairments, defects, or even absences in the battery of specific 
organs. He might, he half jestingly said, some day teach me to live-or at least to 
possess some kind of conscious existence-without any heart at all! For his part, 
he was afflicted with a complication of maladies requiring a very exact regimen 
which included constant cold. Any marked rise in temperature might, if 
prolonged, affect him fatally; and the frigidity of his habitation-some 55 or 56 
degrees Fahrenheit- was maintained by an absorption system of ammonia 
cooling, the gasoline engine of whose pumps I had often heard in my own room 
below. 

Relieved of my seizure in a marvellously short while, I left the shivery place a 
disciple and devotee of the gifted recluse. After that I paid him frequent 
overcoated calls; listening while he told of secret researches and almost ghastly 
results, and trembling a bit when I examined the unconventional and 
astonishingly ancient volumes on his shelves. I was eventually, I may add, 
almost cured of my disease for all time by his skillful ministrations. It seems that 
he did not scorn the incantations of the mediaevalists, since he believed these 
cryptic formulae to contain rare psychological stimuli which might conceivably 
have singular effects on the substance of a nervous system from which organic 
pulsations had fled. I was touched by his account of the aged Dr. Torres of 
Valencia, who had shared his earlier experiments and nursed him through the 
great illness of eighteen years before, whence his present disorders proceeded. 
No sooner had the venerable practitioner saved his colleague than he himself 
succumbed to the grim enemy he had fought. Perhaps the strain had been too 
great; for Dr. Munoz made it whisperingly clear- though not in detail-that the 
methods of healing had been most extraordinary, involving scenes and processes 
not welcomed by elderly and conservative Galens. 

As the weeks passed, I observed with regret that my new friend was indeed 
slowly but unmistakably losing ground physically, as Mrs. Herrero had 
suggested. The livid aspect of his countenance was intensified, his voice became 
more hollow and indistinct, his muscular motions were less perfectly 
coordinated, and his mind and will displayed less resilience and initiative. Of 
this sad change he seemed by no means unaware, and little by little his 
expression and conversation both took on a gruesome irony which restored in 
me something of the subtle repulsion I had originally felt. 

He developed strange caprices, acquiring a fondness for exotic spices and 
Egyptian incense till his room smelled like a vault of a sepulchred Pharaoh in the 
Valley of Kings. At the same time his demands for cold air increased, and with 
my aid he amplified the ammonia piping of his room and modified the pumps 
and feed of his refrigerating machine till he could keep the temperature as low as 
34 degrees or 40 degrees, and finally even 28 degrees; the bathroom and 



110 



laboratory, of course, being less chilled, in order that water might not freeze, and 
that chemical processes might not be impeded. The tenant adjoining him 
complained of the icy air from around the connecting door, so I helped him fit 
heavy hangings to obviate the difficulty. A kind of growing horror, of outre and 
morbid cast, seemed to possess him. He talked of death incessantly, but laughed 
hollowly when such things as burial or funeral arrangements were gently 
suggested. 

All in all, he became a disconcerting and even gruesome companion; yet in my 
gratitude for his healing I could not well abandon him to the strangers around 
him, and was careful to dust his room and attend to his needs each day, muffled 
in a heavy ulster which I bought especially for the purpose. I likewise did much 
of his shopping, and gasped in bafflement at some of the chemicals he ordered 
from druggists and laboratory supply houses. 

An increasing and unexplained atmosphere of panic seemed to rise around his 
apartment. The whole house, as I have said, had a musty odour; but the smell in 
his room was worse-and in spite of all the spices and incense, and the pungent 
chemicals of the now incessant baths which he insisted on taking unaided. I 
perceived that it must be connected with his ailment, and shuddered when I 
reflected on what that ailment might be. Mrs. Herrero crossed herself when she 
looked at him, and gave him up unreservedly to me; not even letting her son 
Esteban continue to run errands for him. When I suggested other physicians, the 
sufferer would fly into as much of a rage as he seemed to dare to entertain. He 
evidently feared the physical effect of violent emotion, yet his will and driving 
force waxed rather than waned, and he refused to be confined to his bed. The 
lassitude of his earlier ill days gave place to a return of his fiery purpose, so that 
he seemed about to hurl defiance at the death-daemon even as that ancient 
enemy seized him. The pretence of eating, always curiously like a formality with 
him, he virtually abandoned; and mental power alone appeared to keep him 
from total collapse. 

He acquired a habit of writing long documents of some sort, which he carefully 
sealed and filled with injunctions that I transmit them after his death to certain 
persons whom he named-for the most part lettered East Indians, but including a 
once celebrated French physician now generally thought dead, and about whom 
the most inconceivable things had been whispered. As it happened, I burned all 
these papers undelivered and unopened. His aspect and voice became utterly 
frightful, and his presence almost unbearable. One September day an unexpected 
glimpse of him induced an epileptic fit in a man who had come to repair his 
electric desk lamp; a fit for which he prescribed effectively whilst keeping 
himself well out of sight. That man, oddly enough, had been through the terrors 
of the Great War without having incurred any fright so thorough. 



Ill 



Then, in the middle of October, the horror of horrors came with stupefying 
suddenness. One night about eleven the pump of the refrigerating machine 
broke down, so that within three hours the process of ammonia cooling became 
impossible. Dr. Munoz summoned me by thumping on the floor, and I worked 
desperately to repair the injury while my host cursed in a tone whose lifeless, 
rattling hollowness surpassed description. My amateur efforts, however, proved 
of no use; and when I had brought in a mechanic from a neighbouring all-night 
garage, we learned that nothing could be done till morning, when a new piston 
would have to be obtained. The moribund hermit's rage and fear, swelling to 
grotesque proportions, seemed likely to shatter what remained of his failing 
physique, and once a spasm caused him to clap his hands to his eyes and rush 
into the bathroom. He groped his way out with face tightly bandaged, and I 
never saw his eyes again. 

The frigidity of the apartment was now sensibly diminishing, and at about 5 a.m. 
the doctor retired to the bathroom, commanding me to keep him supplied with 
all the ice I could obtain at all-night drug stores and cafeterias. As I would return 
from my sometimes discouraging trips and lay my spoils before the closed 
bathroom door, I could hear a restless splashing within, and a thick voice 
croaking out the order for "More-more!" At length a warm day broke, and the 
shops opened one by one. I asked Esteban either to help with the ice-fetching 
whilst I obtained the pump piston, or to order the piston while I continued with 
the ice; but instructed by his mother, he absolutely refused. 

Finally I hired a seedy-looking loafer whom I encountered on the corner of 
Eighth Avenue to keep the patient supplied with ice from a little shop where I 
introduced him, and applied myself diligently to the task of finding a pump 
piston and engaging workmen competent to install it. The task seemed 
interminable, and I raged almost as violently as the hermit when I saw the hours 
slipping by in a breathless, foodless round of vain telephoning, and a hectic quest 
from place to place, hither and thither by subway and surface car. About noon I 
encountered a suitable supply house far downtown, and at approximately 1:30 
p.m. arrived at my boarding-place with the necessary paraphernalia and two 
sturdy and intelligent mechanics. I had done all I could, and hoped I was in time. 

Black terror, however, had preceded me. The house was in utter turmoil, and 
above the chatter of awed voices I heard a man praying in a deep basso. Fiendish 
things were in the air, and lodgers told over the beads of their rosaries as they 
caught the odour from beneath the doctor's closed door. The lounger I had hired, 
it seems, had fled screaming and mad-eyed not long after his second delivery of 
ice; perhaps as a result of excessive curiosity. He could not, of course, have 
locked the door behind him; yet it was now fastened, presumably from the 
inside. There was no sound within save a nameless sort of slow, thick dripping. 



112 



Briefly consulting with Mrs. Herrero and the workmen despite a fear that 
gnawed my inmost soul, I advised the breaking down of the door; but the 
landlady found a way to turn the key from the outside with some wire device. 
We had previously opened the doors of all the other rooms on that hall, and 
flung all the windows to the very top. Now, noses protected by handkerchiefs, 
we tremblingly invaded the accursed south room which blazed with the warm 
sun of early afternoon. 

A kind of dark, slimy trail led from the open bathroom door to the hall door, and 
thence to the desk, where a terrible little pool had accumulated. Something was 
scrawled there in pencil in an awful, blind hand on a piece of paper hideously 
smeared as though by the very claws that traced the hurried last words. Then the 
trail led to the couch and ended unutterably. 

What was, or had been, on the couch I cannot and dare not say here. But this is 
what I shiveringly puzzled out on the stickily smeared paper before I drew a 
match and burned it to a crisp; what I puzzled out in terror as the landlady and 
two mechanics rushed frantically from that hellish place to babble their 
incoherent stories at the nearest police station. The nauseous words seemed well- 
nigh incredible in that yellow sunlight, with the clatter of cars and motor trucks 
ascending clamorously from crowded Fourteenth Street, yet I confess that I 
believed them then. Whether I believe them now I honestly do not know. There 
are things about which it is better not to speculate, and all that I can say is that I 
hate the smell of ammonia, and grow faint at a draught of unusually cool air. 

"The end," ran that noisome scrawl, "is here. No more ice-the man looked and 
ran away. Warmer every minute, and the tissues can't last. I fancy you know- 
what I said about the will and the nerves and the preserved body after the organs 
ceased to work. It was good theory, but couldn't keep up indefinitely. There was 
a gradual deterioration I had not foreseen. Dr. Torres knew, but the shock killed 
him. He couldn't stand what he had to do-he had to get me in a strange, dark 
place when he minded my letter and nursed me back. And the organs never 
would work again. It had to be done my way-preservation-for you see I died 
that time eighteen years ago." 



113 



Dagon 

Written July 1917 

Published November 1919 in The Vagrant, No. 11, 23-29. 

I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be 
no more. Penniless, and at the end of my supply of the drug which alone, makes 
life endurable, I can bear the torture no longer; and shall cast myself from this 
garret window into the squalid street below. Do not think from my slavery to 
morphine that I am a weakling or a degenerate. When you have read these 
hastily scrawled pages you may guess, though never fully realise, why it is that I 
must have forgetfulness or death. 

It was in one of the most open and least frequented parts of the broad Pacific that 
the packet of which I was supercargo fell a victim to the German sea-raider. The 
great war was then at its very beginning, and the ocean forces of the Hun had not 
completely sunk to their later degradation; so that our vessel was made a 
legitimate prize, whilst we of her crew were treated with all the fairness and 
consideration due us as naval prisoners. So liberal, indeed, was the discipline of 
our captors, that five days after we were taken I managed to escape alone in a 
small boat with water and provisions for a good length of time. 

When I finally found myself adrift and free, I had but little idea of my 
surroundings. Never a competent navigator, I could only guess vaguely by the 
sun and stars that I was somewhat south of the equator. Of the longitude I knew 
nothing, and no island or coastline was in sight. The weather kept fair, and for 
uncounted days I drifted aimlessly beneath the scorching sun; waiting either for 
some passing ship, or to be cast on the shores of some habitable land. But neither 
ship nor land appeared, and I began to despair in my solitude upon the heaving 
vastness of unbroken blue. 

The change happened whilst I slept. Its details I shall never know; for my 
slumber, though troubled and dream-infested, was continuous. When at last I 
awakened, it was to discover myself half sucked into a slimy expanse of hellish 
black mire which extended about me in monotonous undulations as far as I 
could see, and in which my boat lay grounded some distance away. 

Though one might well imagine that my first sensation would be of wonder at so 
prodigious and unexpected a transformation of scenery, I was in reality more 
horrified than astonished; for there was in the air and in the rotting soil a sinister 
quality which chilled me to the very core. The region was putrid with the 



114 



carcasses of decaying fish, and of other less describable things which I saw 
protruding from the nasty mud of the unending plain. Perhaps I should not hope 
to convey in mere words the unutterable hideousness that can dwell in absolute 
silence and barren immensity. There was nothing within hearing, and nothing in 
sight save a vast reach of black slime; yet the very completeness of the stillness 
and the homogeneity of the landscape oppressed me with a nauseating fear. 

The sun was blazing down from a sky which seemed to me almost black in its 
cloudless cruelty; as though reflecting the inky marsh beneath my feet. As I 
crawled into the stranded boat I realised that only one theory could explain my 
position. Through some unprecedented volcanic upheaval, a portion of the ocean 
floor must have been thrown to the surface, exposing regions which for 
innumerable millions of years had lain hidden under unfathomable watery 
depths. So great was the extent of the new land which had risen beneath me, that 
I could not detect the faintest noise of the surging ocean, strain my ears as I 
might. Nor were there any sea-fowl to prey upon the dead things. 

For several hours I sat thinking or brooding in the boat, which lay upon its side 
and afforded a slight shade as the sun moved across the heavens. As the day 
progressed, the ground lost some of its stickiness, and seemed likely to dry 
sufficiently for travelling purposes in a short time. That night I slept but little, 
and the next day I made for myself a pack containing food and water, 
preparatory to an overland journey in search of the vanished sea and possible 
rescue. 

On the third morning I found the soil dry enough to walk upon with ease. The 
odour of the fish was maddening; but I was too much concerned with graver 
things to mind so slight an evil, and set out boldly for an unknown goal. All day 
I forged steadily westward, guided by a far-away hummock which rose higher 
than any other elevation on the rolling desert. That night I encamped, and on the 
following day still travelled toward the hummock, though that object seemed 
scarcely nearer than when I had first espied it. By the fourth evening I attained 
the base of the mound, which turned out to be much higher than it had appeared 
from a distance, an intervening valley setting it out in sharper relief from the 
general surface. Too weary to ascend, I slept in the shadow of the hill. 

I know not why my dreams were so wild that night; but ere the waning and 
fantastically gibbous moon had risen far above the eastern plain, I was awake in 
a cold perspiration, determined to sleep no more. Such visions as I had 
experienced were too much for me to endure again. And in the glow of the moon 
I saw how unwise I had been to travel by day. Without the glare of the parching 
sun, my journey would have cost me less energy; indeed, I now felt quite able to 



115 



perform the ascent which had deterred me at sunset. Picking up my pack, I 
started for the crest of the eminence. 

I have said that the unbroken monotony of the rolHng plain was a source of 
vague horror to me; but I think my horror was greater when I gained the summit 
of the mound and looked down the other side into an immeasurable pit or 
canyon, whose black recesses the moon had not yet soared high enough to 
illumine. I felt myself on the edge of the world, peering over the rim into a 
fathomless chaos of eternal night. Through my terror ran curious reminiscences 
of Paradise Lost, and Satan's hideous climb through the unfashioned realms of 
darkness. 

As the moon climbed higher in the sky, I began to see that the slopes of the valley 
were not quite so perpendicular as I had imagined. Ledges and outcroppings of 
rock afforded fairly easy footholds for a descent, whilst after a drop of a few 
hundred feet, the declivity became very gradual. Urged on by an impulse which 
I cannot definitely analyse, I scrambled with difficulty down the rocks and stood 
on the gentler slope beneath, gazing into the Stygian deeps where no light had 
yet penetrated. 

All at once my attention was captured by a vast and singular object on the 
opposite slope, which rose steeply about a hundred yards ahead of me; an object 
that gleamed whitely in the newly bestowed rays of the ascending moon. That it 
was merely a gigantic piece of stone, I soon assured myself; but I was conscious 
of a distinct impression that its contour and position were not altogether the 
work of Nature. A closer scrutiny filled me with sensations I cannot express; for 
despite its enormous magnitude, and its position in an abyss which had yawned 
at the bottom of the sea since the world was young, I perceived beyond a doubt 
that the strange object was a well-shaped monolith whose massive bulk had 
known the workmanship and perhaps the worship of living and thinking 
creatures. 

Dazed and frightened, yet not without a certain thrill of the scientist's or 
archaeologist's delight, I examined my surroundings more closely. The moon, 
now near the zenith, shone weirdly and vividly above the towering steeps that 
hemmed in the chasm, and revealed the fact that a far-flung body of water 
flowed at the bottom, winding out of sight in both directions, and almost lapping 
my feet as I stood on the slope. Across the chasm, the wavelets washed the base 
of the Cyclopean monolith, on whose surface I could now trace both inscriptions 
and crude sculptures. The writing was in a system of hieroglyphics unknown to 
me, and unlike anything I had ever seen in books, consisting for the most part of 
conventionalised aquatic symbols such as fishes, eels, octopi, crustaceans, 
molluscs, whales and the like. Several characters obviously represented marine 



116 



things which are unknown to the modern world, but whose decomposing forms 
I had observed on the ocean-risen plain. 

It was the pictorial carving, however, that did most to hold me spellbound. 
Plainly visible across the intervening water on account of their enormous size 
was an array of bas-reliefs whose subjects would have excited the envy of a Dore. 
I think that these things were supposed to depict men — at least, a certain sort of 
men; though the creatures were shown disporting like fishes in the waters of 
some marine grotto, or paying homage at some monolithic shrine which 
appeared to be under the waves as well. Of their faces and forms I dare not speak 
in detail, for the mere remembrance makes me grow faint. Grotesque beyond the 
imagination of a Poe or a Bulwer, they were damnably human in general outline 
despite webbed hands and feet, shockingly wide and flabby lips, glassy, bulging 
eyes, and other features less pleasant to recall. Curiously enough, they seemed to 
have been chiselled badly out of proportion with their scenic background; for 
one of the creatures was shown in the act of killing a whale represented as but 
little larger than himself. I remarked, as I say, their grotesqueness and strange 
size; but in a moment decided that they were merely the imaginary gods of some 
primitive fishing or seafaring tribe; some tribe whose last descendant had 
perished eras before the first ancestor of the Piltdown or Neanderthal Man was 
born. Awestruck at this unexpected glimpse into a past beyond the conception of 
the most daring anthropologist, I stood musing whilst the moon cast queer 
reflections on the silent channel before me. 

Then suddenly I saw it. With only a slight churning to mark its rise to the 
surface, the thing slid into view above the dark waters. Vast, Polyphemus-like, 
and loathsome, it darted like a stupendous monster of nightmares to the 
monolith, about which it flung its gigantic scaly arms, the while it bowed its 
hideous head and gave vent to certain measured sounds. I think I went mad 
then. 

Of my frantic ascent of the slope and cliff, and of my delirious journey back to 
the stranded boat, I remember little. I believe I sang a great deal, and laughed 
oddly when I was unable to sing. I have indistinct recollections of a great storm 
some time after I reached the boat; at any rate, I knew that I heard peals of 
thunder and other tones which Nature utters only in her wildest moods. 

When I came out of the shadows I was in a San Francisco hospital; brought 
thither by the captain of the American ship which had picked up my boat in mid- 
ocean. In my delirium I had said much, but found that my words had been given 
scant attention. Of any land upheaval in the Pacific, my rescuers knew nothing; 
nor did I deem it necessary to insist upon a thing which I knew they could not 
believe. Once I sought out a celebrated ethnologist, and amused him with 



117 



peculiar questions regarding the ancient Philistine legend of Dagon, the Fish- 
God; but soon perceiving that he was hopelessly conventional, I did not press my 
inquiries. 

It is at night, especially when the moon is gibbous and waning, that I see the 
thing. I tried morphine; but the drug has given only transient surcease, and has 
drawn me into its clutches as a hopeless slave. So now I am to end it all, having 
written a full account for the information or the contemptuous amusement of my 
fellow-men. Often I ask myself if it could not all have been a pure phantasm — a 
mere freak of fever as I lay sun-stricken and raving in the open boat after my 
escape from the German man-of-war. This I ask myself, but ever does there come 
before me a hideously vivid vision in reply. I cannot think of the deep sea 
without shuddering at the nameless things that may at this very moment be 
crawling and floundering on its slimy bed, worshipping their ancient stone idols 
and carving their own detestable likenesses on submarine obelisks of water- 
soaked granite. I dream of a day when they may rise above the billows to drag 
down in their reeking talons the remnants of puny, war-exhausted mankind — 
of a day when the land shall sink, and the dark ocean floor shall ascend amidst 
universal pandemonium. 

The end is near. I hear a noise at the door, as of some immense slippery body 
lumbering against it. It shall not find me. God, that hand! The window! The 
window! 



118 



Dreams in the Witch-House 

Written Jan-28 Feb 1932 

Published July 1933 in Weird Tales, Vol. 22, No. 1, 86-111. 

Whether the dreams brought on the fever or the fever brought on the dreams 
Walter Gilman did not know. Behind everything crouched the brooding, 
festering horror of the ancient town, and of the mouldy, unhallowed garret gable 
where he wrote and studied and wrestled with figures and formulae when he 
was not tossing on the meagre iron bed. His ears were growing sensitive to a 
preternatural and intolerable degree, and he had long ago stopped the cheap 
mantel clock whose ticking had come to seem like a thunder of artillery. At night 
the subtle stirring of the black city outside, the sinister scurrying of rats in the 
wormy partitions, and the creaking of hidden timbers in the centuried house, 
were enough to give him a sense of strident pandemonium. The darkness always 
teemed with unexplained sound - and yet he sometimes shook with fear lest the 
noises he heard should subside and allow him to hear certain other fainter noises 
which he suspected were lurking behind them. 

He was in the changeless, legend-haunted city of Arkham, with its clustering 
gambrel roofs that sway and sag over attics where witches hid from the King's 
men in the dark, olden years of the Province. Nor was any spot in that city more 
steeped in macabre memory than the gable room which harboured him - for it 
was this house and this room which had likewise harboured old Keziah Mason, 
whose flight from Salem Gaol at the last no one was ever able to explain. That 
was in 1692 - the gaoler had gone mad and babbled of a small white-fanged furry 
thing which scuttled out of Keziah's cell, and not even Cotton Mather could 
explain the curves and angles smeared on the grey stone walls with some red, 
sticky fluid. 

Possibly Gilman ought not to have studied so hard. Non-Euclidean calculus and 
quantum physics are enough to stretch any brain, and when one mixes them 
with folklore, and tries to trace a strange background of multi-dimensional 
reality behind the ghoulish hints of the Gothic tales and the wild whispers of the 
chimney-corner, one can hardly expect to be wholly free from mental tension. 
Gilman came from Haverhill, but it was only after he had entered college in 
Arkham that he began to connect his mathematics with the fantastic legends of 
elder magic. Something in the air of the hoary town worked obscurely on his 
imagination. The professors at Miskatonic had urged him to slacken up, and had 
voluntarily cut down his course at several points. Moreover, they had stopped 
him from consulting the dubious old books on forbidden secrets that were kept 



119 



under lock and key in a vault at the university library. But all these precautions 
came late in the day, so that Gilman had some terrible hints from the dreaded 
Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred, the fragmentary Book of Eibon, and the 
suppressed Unaussprechlicken Kulten of von Junzt to correlate with his abstract 
formulae on the properties of space and the linkage of dimensions known and 
unknown. 

He knew his room was in the old Witch-House - that, indeed, was why he had 
taken it. There was much in the Essex County records about Keziah Mason's 
trial, and what she had admitted under pressure to the Court of Oyer and 
Terminer had fascinated Gilman beyond all reason. She had told Judge Hathorne 
of lines and curves that could be made to point out directions leading through 
the walls of space to other spaces beyond, and had implied that such lines and 
curves were frequently used at certain midnight meetings in the dark valley of 
the white stone beyond Meadow Hill and on the unpeopled island in the river. 
She had spoken also of the Black Man, of her oath, and of her new secret name of 
Nahab. Then she had drawn those devices on the walls of her cell and vanished. 

Gilman believed strange things about Keziah, and had felt a queer thrill on 
learning that her dwelling was still standing after more than two hundred and 
thirty-five years. When he heard the hushed Arkham whispers about Keziah's 
persistent presence in the old house and the narrow streets, about the irregular 
human tooth-marks left on certain sleepers in that and other houses, about the 
childish cries heard near May-Eve, and Hallowmass, about the stench often 
noted in the old house's attic just after those dreaded seasons, and about the 
small, furry, sharp-toothed thing which haunted the mouldering structure and 
the town and nuzzled people curiously in the black hours before dawn, he 
resolved to live in the place at any cost. A room was easy to secure, for the house 
was unpopular, hard to rent, and long given over to cheap lodgings. Gilman 
could not have told what he expected to find there, but he knew he wanted to be 
in the building where some circumstance had more or less suddenly given a 
mediocre old woman of the Seventeenth Century an insight into mathematical 
depths perhaps beyond the utmost modern delvings of Planck, Heisenberg, 
Einstein, and de Sitter. 

He studied the timber and plaster walls for traces of cryptic designs at every 
accessible spot where the paper had peeled, and within a week managed to get 
the eastern attic room where Keziah was held to have practised her spells. It had 
been vacant from the first - for no one had ever been willing to stay there long - 
but the Polish landlord had grown wary about renting it. Yet nothing whatever 
happened to Gilman till about the time of the fever. No ghostly Keziah flitted 
through the sombre halls and chambers, no small furry thing crept into his 
dismal eyrie to nuzzle him, and no record of the witch's incantations rewarded 



120 



his constant search. Sometimes he would take walks through shadowy tangles of 
unpaved musty-smelling lanes where eldritch brown houses of unknown age 
leaned and tottered and leered mockingly through narrow, small-paned 
windows. Here he knew strange things had happened once, and there was a 
faint suggestion behind the surface that everything of that monstrous past might 
not - at least in the darkest, narrowest, and most intricately crooked alleys - have 
utterly perished. He also rowed out twice to the ill-regarded island in the river, 
and made a sketch of the singular angles described by the moss-grown rows of 
grey standing stones whose origin was so obscure and immemorial. 

Gilman's room was of good size but queerly irregular shape; the north wall 
slating perceptibly inward from the outer to the inner end, while the low ceiling 
slanted gently downward in the same direction. Aside from an obvious rat-hole 
and the signs of other stopped-up ones, there was no access - nor any appearance 
of a former avenue of access - to the space which must have existed between the 
slanting wall and the straight outer wall on the house's north side, though a view 
from the exterior showed where a window had heen boarded up at a very 
remote date. The loft above the ceiling - which must have had a slanting floor - 
was likewise inaccessible. When Gilman climbed up a ladder to the cob-webbed 
level loft above the rest of the attic he found vestiges of a bygone aperture tightly 
and heavily covered with ancient planking and secured by the stout wooden 
pegs common in Colonial carpentry. No amount of persuasion, however, could 
induce the stolid landlord to let him investigate either of these two closed spaces. 

As time wore along, his absorption in the irregular wall and ceiling of his room 
increased; for he began to read into the odd angles a mathematical significance 
which seemed to offer vague clues regarding their purpose. Old Keziah, he 
reflected, might have had excellent reasons for living in a room with peculiar 
angles; for was it not through certain angles that she claimed to have gone 
outside the boundaries of the world of space we know? His interest gradually 
veered away from the unplumbed voids beyond the slanting surfaces, since it 
now appeared that the purpose of those surfaces concerned the side he was on. 

The touch of brain-fever and the dreams began early in February. For some time, 
apparently, the curious angles of Gilman's room had been having a strange, 
almost hypnotic effect on him; and as the bleak winter advanced he had found 
himself staring more and more intently at the corner where the down- slanting 
ceiling met the inward-slanting wall. About this period his inability to 
concentrate on his formal studies worried him considerably, his apprehensions 
about the mid-year examinations being very acute. But the exaggerated sense of 
bearing was scarcely less annoying. Life had become an insistent and almost 
unendurable cacophony, and there was that constant, terrifying impression of 
other sounds - perhaps from regions beyond life - trembling on the very brink of 



121 



audibility. So far as concrete noises went, the rats in the ancient partitions were 
the worst. Sometimes their scratching seemed not only furtive but deliberate. 
When it came from beyond the slanting north wall it was mixed with a sort of 
dry rattling; and when it came from the century-closed loft above the slanting 
ceiling Gilman always braced himself as if expecting some horror which only 
bided its time before descending to engulf him utterly. 

The dreams were wholly beyond the pale of sanity, and Gilman fell that they 
must be a result, jointly, of his studies in mathematics and in folklore. He had 
been thinking too much about the vague regions which his formulae told him 
must lie beyond the three dimensions we know, and about the possibility that 
old Keziah Mason - guided by some influence past all conjecture - had actually 
found the gate to those regions. The yellowed country records containing her 
testimony and that of her accusers were so damnably suggestive of things 
beyond human experience - and the descriptions of the darting little furry object 
which served as her familiar were so painfully realistic despite their incredible 
details. 

That object - no larger than a good-sized rat and quaintly called by the 
townspeople "Brown Jenkins - seemed to have been the fruit of a remarkable 
case of sympathetic herd-delusion, for in 1692 no less than eleven persons had 
testified to glimpsing it. There were recent rumours, too, with a baffling and 
disconcerting amount of agreement. Witnesses said it had long hair and the 
shape of a rat, but that its sharp-toothed, bearded face was evilly human while its 
paws were like tiny human hands. It took messages betwixt old Keziah and the 
devil, and was nursed on the witch's blood, which it sucked like a vampire. Its 
voice was a kind of loathsome titter, and it could speak all languages. Of all the 
bizarre monstrosities in Oilman's dreams, nothing filled him with greater panic 
and nausea than this blasphemous and diminutive hybrid, whose image flitted 
across his vision in a form a thousandfold more hateful than anything his waking 
mind had deduced from the ancient records and the modern whispers. 

Oilman's dreams consisted largely in plunges through limitless abysses of 
inexplicably coloured twilight and baffingly disordered sound; abysses whose 
material and gravitational properties, and whose relation to his own entity, he 
could not even begin to explain. He did not walk or climb, fly or swim, crawl or 
wriggle; yet always experienced a mode of motion partly voluntary and partly 
involuntary. Of his own condition he could not well judge, for sight of his arms, 
legs, and torso seemed always cut off by some odd disarrangement of 
perspective; but he felt that his physical organization and faculties were 
somehow marvellously transmuted and obliquely projected - though not without 
a certain grotesque relationship to his normal proportions and properties. 



122 



The abysses were by no means vacant, being crowded with indescribably angled 
masses of alien-hued substance, some of which appeared to be organic while 
others seemed inorganic. A few of the organic objects tended to awake vague 
memories in the back of his mind, though he could form no conscious idea of 
what they mockingly resembled or suggested. In the later dreams he began to 
distinguish separate categories into which the organic objects appeared to be 
divided, and which seemed to involve in each case a radically different species of 
conduct-pattern and basic motivation. Of these categories one seemed to him to 
include objects slightly less illogical and irrelevant in their motions than the 
members of the other categories. 

All the objects - organic and inorganic alike - were totally beyond description or 
even comprehension. Gilman sometimes compared the inorganic matter to 
prisms, labyrinths, clusters of cubes and planes, and Cyclopean buildings; and 
the organic things struck him variously as groups of bubbles, octopi, centipedes, 
living Hindoo idols, and intricate arabesques roused into a kind of ophidian 
animation. Everything he saw was unspeakably menacing and horrible; and 
whenever one of the organic entities appeared by its motions to be noticing him, 
he felt a stark, hideous fright which generally jolted him awake. Of how the 
organic entities moved, he could tell no more than of how he moved himself. In 
time he observed a further mystery - the tendency of certain entities to appear 
suddenly out of empty space, or to disappear totally with equal suddenness. The 
shrieking, roaring confusion of sound which permeated the abysses was past all 
analysis as to pitch, timbre or rhythm; but seemed to be synchronous with vague 
visual changes in all the indefinite objects, organic and inorganic alike. Gilman 
had a constant sense of dread that it might rise to some unbearable degree of 
intensity during one or another of its obscure, relentlessly inevitable fluctuations. 

But it was not in these vortices of complete alienage that he saw Brown Jenkin. 
That shocking little horror was reserved for certain lighter, sharper dreams 
which assailed him just before he dropped into the fullest depths of sleep. He 
would be lying in the dark fighting to keep awake when a faint lambent glow 
would seem to shimmer around the centuried room, showing in a violet mist the 
convergence of angled planes which had seized his brain so insidiously. The 
horror would appear to pop out of the rat-hole in the corner and patter toward 
him over the sagging, wide-planked floor with evil expectancy in its tiny, 
bearded human face; but mercifully, this dream always melted away before the 
object got close enough to nuzzle him. It had hellishly long, sharp, canine teeth; 
Gilman tried to stop up the rat-hole every day, but each night the real tenants of 
the partitions would gnaw away the obstruction, whatever it might be. Once he 
had the landlord nail a tin over it, but the next night the rats gnawed a fresh hole, 
in making which they pushed or dragged out into the room a curious little 
fragment of bone. 



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Gilman did not report his fever to the doctor, for he knew he could not pass the 
examinations if ordered to the college infirmary when every moment was 
needed for cramming. As it was, he failed in Calculus D and Advanced General 
Psychology, though not without hope of making up lost ground before the end 
of the term. 

It was in March when the fresh element entered his lighter preliminary 
dreaming, and the nightmare shape of Brown Jenkin began to be companioned 
by the nebulous blur which grew more and more to resemble a bent old woman. 
This addition disturbed him more than he could account for, but finally he 
decided that it was like an ancient crone whom he had twice actually 
encountered in the dark tangle of lanes near the abandoned wharves. On those 
occasions the evil, sardonic, and seemingly unmotivated stare of the beldame 
had set him almost shivering - especially the first time when an overgrown rat 
darting across the shadowed mouth of a neighbouring alley had made him think 
irrationally of Brown Jenkin. Now, he reflected, those nervous fears were being 
mirrored in his disordered dreams. That the influence of the old house was 
unwholesome he could not deny, but traces of his early morbid interest still held 
him there. He argued that the fever alone was responsible for his nightly 
fantasies, and that when the touch abated he would be free from the monstrous 
visions. Those visions, however, were of absorbing vividness and 
convincingness, and whenever he awaked he retained a vague sense of having 
undergone much more than he remembered. He was hideously sure that in 
unrecalled dreams he had talked with both Brown Jenkin and the old woman, 
and that they had been urging him to go somewhere with them and to meet a 
third being of greater potency. 

Toward the end of March he began to pick up in his mathematics, though the 
other studies bothered him increasingly. He was getting an intuitive knack for 
solving Riemannian equations, and astonished Professor Upham by his 
comprehension of fourth-dimensional and other problems which had floored all 
the rest of the class. One afternoon there was a discussion of possible freakish 
curvatures in space, and of theoretical points of approach or even contact 
between our part of the cosmos and various other regions as distant as the 
farthest stars or the transgalactic gulfs themselves - or even as fabulously remote 
as the tentatively conceivable cosmic units beyond the whole Einsteinian space- 
time continuum. Oilman's handling of this theme filled everyone with 
admiration, even though some of his hypothetical illustrations caused an 
increase in the always plentiful gossip about his nervous and solitary 
eccentricity. What made the students shake their heads was his sober theory that 
a man might - given mathematical knowledge admittedly beyond all likelihood 
of human acquirement - step deliberately from the earth to any other celestial 
body which might lie at one of an infinity of specifc points in the cosmic pattern. 



124 



Such a step, he said, would require only two stages; first, a passage out of the 
three-dimensional sphere we know, and second, a passage back to the three- 
dimensional sphere at another point, perhaps one of infinite remoteness. That 
this could be accomplished without loss of life was in many cases conceivable. 
Any being from any part of three-dimensional space could probably survive in 
the fourth dimension; and its survival of the second stage would depend upon 
what alien part of three-dimensional space it might select for its re-entry. 
Denizens of some planets might be able to live on certain others - even planets 
belonging to other galaxies, or to similar dimensional phases of other space-time 
continua - though of course there must be vast numbers of mutually 
uninhabitable even though mathematically juxtaposed bodies or zones of space. 

It was also possible that the inhabitants of a given dimensional realm could 
survive entry to many unknown and incomprehensible realms of additional or 
indefinitely multiplied dimensions - be they within or outside the given space- 
time continuum - and that the converse would be likewise true. This was a 
matter for speculation, though one could be fairly certain that the type of 
mutation involved in a passage from any given dimensional plane to the next 
higher one would not be destructive of biological integrity as we understand it. 
Gilman could not be very clear about his reasons for this last assumption, but his 
haziness here was more than overbalanced by his clearness on other complex 
points. Professor Upham especially liked his demonstration of the kinship of 
higher mathematics to certain phases of magical lore transmitted down the ages 
from an ineffable antiquity - human or pre-human - whose knowledge of the 
cosmos and its laws was greater than ours. 

Around 1 April Gilman worried cosiderably because his slow fever did not 
abate. He was also troubled by what some of his fellow lodgers said about his 
sleep-walking. It seened that he was often absent from his bed and that the 
creaking of his floor at certain hours of the night was remarked by the man in the 
room below. This fellow also spoke of hearing the tread of shod feet in the night; 
but Gilman was sure he must have been mistaken in this, since shoes as well as 
other apparel were always precisely in place in the morning. One could develop 
all sorts of aural delusions in this morbid old house - for did not Gilman himself, 
even in daylight, now feel certain that noises other than rat-scratching came from 
the black voids beyond the slanting wall and above the slanting ceiling? His 
pathologically sensitive ears began to listen for faint footfalls in the 
immemorially sealed loft overhead, and sometimes the illusion of such things 
was agonizingly realistic. 

However, he knew that he had actually become a somnambulist; for twice at 
night his room had been found vacant, though with all his clothing in place. Of 
this he had been assured by Frank Elwood, the one fellow-student whose 



125 



poverty forced him to room in this squahd and unpopular house. Elwood had 
been studying in the small hours and had come up for help on a differential 
equation, only to find Gilman absent. It had been rather presumptuous of him to 
open the unlocked door after knocking had failed to rouse a response, but he had 
needed the help very badly and thought that his host would not mind a gentle 
prodding awake. On neither occasion, though, had Gilman been there; and when 
told of the matter he wondered where he could have been wandering, barefoot 
and with only his night clothes on. He resolved to investigate the matter if 
reports of his sleep-walking continued, and thought of sprinkling flour on the 
floor of the corridor to see where his footsteps might lead. The door was the only 
conceivable egress, for there was no possible foothold outside the narrow 
window. 

As April advanced. Oilman's fever-sharpened ears were disturbed by the 
whining prayers of a superstitious loom-fixer named Joe Mazurewicz who had a 
room on the ground floor. Mazurewicz had told long, rambling stories about the 
ghost of old Keziah and the furry sharp-fanged, nuzzling thing, and had said he 
was so badly haunted at times that only his silver crucifix - given him for the 
purpose by Father Iwanicki of St. Stanislaus' Church - could bring him relief. 
Now he was praying because the Witches' Sabbath was drawing near. May Eve 
was Walpurgis Night, when hell's blackest evil roamed the earth and all the 
slaves of Satan gathered for nameless rites and deeds. It was always a very bad 
lime in Arkham, even though the fine folks up in Miskatonic Avenue and High 
and Saltonstall Streets pretended to know nothing about it. There would be bad 
doings, and a child or two would probably be missing. Joe knew about such 
things, for his grandmother in the old country had heard tales from her 
grandmother. It was wise to pray and count one's beads at this season. For three 
months Keziah and Brown Jenkin had not been near Joe's room, nor near Paul 
Choynski's room, nor anywhere else - and it meant no good when they held off 
like that. They must be up to something. 

Oilman dropped in at the doctor's office on the sixteenth of the month, and was 
surprised to find his temperature was not as high as he had feared. The physician 
questioned him sharply, and advised him to see a nerve specialist. On reflection, 
he was glad he had not consulted the still more inquisitive college doctor. Old 
Waldron, who had curtailed his activities before, would have made him take a 
rest - an impossible thing now that he was so close to great results in his 
equations. He was certainly near the boundary between the known universe and 
the fourth dimension, and who could say how much farther he might go? 

But even as these thoughts came to him he wondered at the source of his strange 
confidence. Did all of this perilous sense of immininence come from the formulae 
on the sheets he covered day by day? The soft, stealthy, imaginary footsteps in 



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the sealed loft above were unnerving. And now, too, there was a growing feeling 
that somebody was constantly persuading him to do something terrible which he 
could not do. How about the somnambulism? Where did he go sometimes in the 
night? And what was that faint suggestion of sound which once in a while 
seemed to trickle through the confusion of identifiable sounds even in broad 
daylight and full wakefulness? Its rhythm did not correspond to anything on 
earth, unless perhaps to the cadence of one or two unmentionable Sabbat-chants, 
and sometimes he feared it corresponded to certain attributes of the vague 
shrieking or roaring in those wholly alien abysses of dream. 

The dreams were meanwhile getting to be atrocious. In the lighter preliminary 
phase the evil old woman was now of fiendish distinctness, and Gilman knew 
she was the one who had frightened him in the slums. Her bent back, long nose, 
and shrivelled chin were unmistakable, and her shapeless brown garments were 
like those he remembered. The expression on her face was one of hideous 
malevolence and exultation, and when he awaked he could recall a croaking 
voice that persuaded and threatened. He must meet the Black Man and go with 
them all to the throne of Azathoth at the centre of ultimate chaos. That was what 
she said. He must sign the book of Azathoth in his own blood and take a new 
secret name now that his independent delvings had gone so far. What kept him 
from going with her and Brown Jenkin and the other to the throne of Chaos 
where the thin flutes pipe mindlessly was the fact that he had seen the name 
"Azathoth" in the Necronomicon, and knew it stood for a primal evil too horrible 
for description. 

The old woman always appeared out of thin air near the corner where the 
downward slant met the inward slant. She seemed to crystallize at a point closer 
to the ceiling than to the floor, and every night she was a little nearer and more 
distinct before the dream shifted. Brown Jenkin, too was always a little nearer at 
the last, and its yellowish-white fangs glistened shockingly in that unearthly 
violet phosphorescence. Its shrill loathsome tittering struck more and more into 
Gilman's head, and he could remember in the morning how it had pronounced 
the words "Azathoth" and "Nyarlathotep". 

In the deeper dreams everything was likewise more distinct, and Gilman felt that 
the twilight abysses around him were those of the fourth dimension. Those 
organic entities whose motions seemed least flagrantly irrelevant and 
unmotivated were probably projections of life-forms from our own planet, 
including human beings. What the others were in their own dimensional sphere 
or spheres he dared not try to think. Two of the less irrelevantly moving things - 
a rather large congeries of iridescent, prolately spheroidal bubbles and a very 
much smaller polyhedron of unknown colours and rapidly shifting surface 
angles - seemed to take notice of him and follow him about or float ahead as he 



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changed position among the titan prisms, labyrinths, cube-and-plane clusters 
and quasi-buildings; and all the while the vague shrieking and roaring waxed 
louder and louder, as if approaching some monstrous climax of utterly 
unendurable intensity. 

During the night of 19-20 April the new development occurred. Gilman was half 
involuntarily moving about in the twilight abysses with the bubble-mass and the 
small polyhedron floating ahead when he noticed the peculiarly regular angles 
formed by the edges of some gigantic neighbouring prism-clusters. In another 
second he was out of the abyss and standing tremulously on a rocky hillside 
bathed in intense, diffused green light. He was barefooted and in his 
nightclothes. and when he tried to walk discovered that he could scarcely lift his 
feet. A swirling vapour hid everything but the immediate sloping terrain from 
sight, and he shrank from the thought of the sounds, that might surge out of that 
vapour. 

Then he saw the two shapes laboriously crawling toward him - the old woman 
and the little furry thing. The crone strained up to her knees and managed to 
cross her arms in a singular fashion, while Brown Jenkin pointed in a certain 
direction with a horribly anthropoid forepaw which it raised with evident 
difficulty. Spurred by an impulse he did not originate, Gilman dragged himself 
forward along a course determined by the angle of the old woman's arms and 
the direction of the small monstrosity's paw, and before he had shuffled three 
steps he was back in the twilight abysses. Geometrical shapes seethed around 
him, and he fell dizzily and interminably. At last he woke in his bed in the 
crazily angled garret of the eldritch old house. 

He was good for nothing that morning, and stayed away from all his classes. 
Some unknown attraction was pulling his eyes in a seemingly irrelevant 
direction, for he could not help staring at a certain vacant spot on the floor. As 
the day advanced, the focus of his unseeing eyes changed position, and by noon 
he had conquered the impulse to stare at vacancy. About two o'clock he went out 
for lunch and as he threaded the narrow lanes of the city he found himself 
turning always to the southeast. Only an effort halted him at a cafeteria in 
Church Street, and after the meal he felt the unknown pull still more strongly. 

He would have to consult a nerve specialist after all - perhaps there was a 
connection with his somnambulism - but meanwhile he might at least try to 
break the morbid spell himself. Undoubtedly he could still manage to walk away 
from the pull, so with great resolution he headed against it and dragged himself 
deliberately north along Garrison Street. By the time he had reached the bridge 
over the Miskatonic he was in a cold perspiration, and he clutched at the iron 



128 



railing as he gazed upstream at the ill- regarded island whose regular lines of 
ancient standing stones brooded sullenly in the afternoon sunlight. 

Then he gave a start. For there was a clearly visible living figure on that desolate 
island, and a second glance told him it was certainly the strange old woman 
whose sinister aspect had worked itself so disastrously into his dreams. The tall 
grass near her was moving, too, as if some other living thing were crawling close 
to the ground. When the old woman began to turn toward him he fled 
precipitately off the bridge and into the shelter of the town's labyrinthine 
waterfront alleys. Distant though the island was, he felt that a monstrous and 
invincible evil could flow from the sardonic stare of that bent, ancient figure in 
brown. 

The southeastwards pull still held, and only with tremendous resolution could 
Gilman drag himself into the old house and up the rickety stairs. For hours he sat 
silent and aimless, with his eyes shifting gradually westward. About six o'clock 
his sharpened ears caught the whining prayers of Joe Mazurewicz two floors 
below, and in desperation he seized his hat and walked out into the sunset- 
golden streets, letting the now directly southward pull carry him where it might. 
An hour later darkness found him in the open fields beyond Hangman's Brook, 
with the glimmering spring stars shining ahead. The urge to walk was gradually 
changing to an urge to leap mystically into space, and suddenly he realized just 
where the source of the pull lay. 

It was in the sky. A definite point among the stars had a claim on him and was 
calling him. Apparently it was a point somewhere between Hydra and Argo 
Navis, and he knew that he had been urged toward it ever since he had awaked 
soon after dawn. In the morning it had been underfoot, and now it was roughly 
south but stealing toward the west. What was the meaning of this new thing? 
Was he going mad? How long would it last? Again mustering his resolution, 
Gilman turned and dragged himself back to the sinister old house. 

Mazurewicz was waiting for him at the door, and seemed both anxious and 
reluctant to whisper some fresh bit of superstition. It was about the witch-light. 
Joe had been out celebrating the night before - and it was Patriots' Day in 
Massachusetts - and had come home after midnight. Looking up at the house 
from outside, he had thought at first that Oilman's window was dark, but then 
he had seen the faint violet glow within. He wanted to warn the gentleman about 
that glow, for everybody in Arkham knew it was Keziah's witch-light which 
played near Brown Jenkin and the ghost of the old crone herself. He had not 
mentioned this before, but now he must tell about it because it meant that Keziah 
and her long-toothed familiar were haunting the young gentleman. Sometimes 
he and Paul Choynski and Landlord Dombrowski thought they saw that light 



129 



seeping out of cracks in the sealed loft above the young gentleman's room, but 
they had all agreed not to talk about that. However, it would be better for the 
gentleman to take another room and get a crucifix from some good priest like 
Father Iwanicki. 

As the man rambled on, Gilman felt a nameless panic clutch at his throat. He 
knew that Joe must have been half drunk when he came home the night before; 
yet the mention of a violet light in the garret window was of frightful import. It 
was a lambent glow of this sort which always played about the old woman and 
the small furry thing in those lighter, sharper dreams which prefaced his plunge 
into unknown abysses, and the thought that a wakeful second person could see 
the dream-luminance was utterly beyond sane harborage. Yet where had the 
fellow got such an odd notion? Had he himself talked as well as walked around 
the house in his sleep? No, Joe said, he had not - but he must check up on this. 
Perhaps Frank Elwood could tell him something, though he hated to ask. 

Fever - wild dreams - somnambulism - illusions of sounds - a pull toward a point 
in the sky - and now a suspicion of insane sleep-talking! He must stop studying, 
see a nerve specialist, and take himself in hand. When he climbed to the second 
storey he paused at Elwood's door but saw that the other youth was out. 
Reluctantly he continued up to his garret room and sat down in the dark. His 
gaze was still pulled to the southward, but he also found himself listening 
intently for some sound in the closed loft above, and half imagining that an evil 
violet light seeped down through an infinitesimal crack in the low, slanting 
ceiling. 

That night as Gilman slept, the violet light broke upon him with heightened 
intensity, and the old witch and small furry thing, getting closer than ever before, 
mocked him with inhuman squeals and devilish gestures. He was glad to sink 
into the vaguely roaring twilight abysses, though the pursuit of that iridescent 
bubble-congeries and that kaleidoscopic little polyhedron was menacing and 
irritating. Then came the shift as vast converging planes of a slippery-looking 
substance loomed above and below him - a shift which ended in a flash of 
delirium and a blaze of unknown, alien light in which yellow, carmine, and 
indigo were madly and inextricably blended. 

He was half lying on a high, fantastically balustraded terrace above a boundless 
jungle of outlandish, incredible peaks, balanced planes, domes, minarets, 
horizontal disks poised on pinnacles, and numberless forms of still greater 
wildness - some of stone and some of metal - which glittered gorgeously in the 
mixed, almost blistering glare from a poly-chromatic sky. Looking upward he 
saw three stupendous disks of flame, each of a different hue, and at a different 
height above an infinitely distant curving horizon of low mountains. Behind him 



130 



tiers of higher terraces towered aloft as far as he could see. The city below 
stretched away to the limits of vision, and he hoped that no sound would well up 
from it. 

The pavement from which he easily raised himself was a veined polished stone 
beyond his power to identify, and the tiles were cut in bizarre-angled shapes 
which struck himm as less asymmetrical than based on some unearthly 
symmetry whose laws he could not comprehend. The balustrade was chest-high, 
delicate, and fantastically wrought, while along the rail were ranged at short 
intervals little figures of grotesque design and exquisite workmanship. They, like 
the whole balustrade, seemed to be made of some sort of shining metal whose 
colour could not be guessed in the chaos of mixed effulgences, and their nature 
utterly defied conjecture. They represented some ridged barrel-shaped objects 
with thin horizontal arms radiating spoke-like from a central ring and with 
vertical knobs or bulbs projecting from the head and base of the barrel. Each of 
these knobs was the hub of a system of five long, flat, triangularly tapering arms 
arranged around it like the arms of a starfish - nearly horizontal, but curving 
slightly away from the central barrel. The base of the bottom knob was fused to 
the long railing with so delicate a point of contact that several figures had been 
broken off and were missing. The figures were about four and a half inches in 
height, while the spiky arms gave them a maximum diameter of about two and a 
half inches. 

When Gilman stood up, the tiles felt hot to his bare feet. He was wholly alone, 
and his first act was to walk to the balustrade and look dizzily down at the 
endless, Cyclopean city almost two thousand feet below. As he listened he 
thought a rhythmic confusion of faint musical pipings covering a wide tonal 
range welled up from the narrow streets beneath, and he wished he might 
discern the denizens of the place. The sight turned him giddy after a while, so 
that he would have fallen to the pavement had he not clutched instinctively at 
the lustrous balustrade. His right hand fell on one of the projecting figures, the 
touch seeming to steady him slightly. It was too much, however, for the exotic 
delicacy of the metal- work, and the spiky figure snapped off under his grasp. 
Still half dazed, he continued to clutch it as his other hand seized a vacant space 
on the smooth railing. 

But now his over-sensitive ears caught something behind him, and he looked 
back across the level terrace. Approaching him softly though without apparent 
furtiveness were five figures, two of which were the sinister old woman and the 
fanged, furry little animal. The other three were what sent him unconscious; for 
they were living entities about eight feet high, shaped precisely like the spiky 
images on the balustrade, and propelling themselves by a spider-like wriggling 
of their lower set of starfish-arms. 



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Gilman awoke in his bed, drenched by a cold perspiration and with a smarting 
sensation in his face, hands and feet. Springing to the floor, he washed and 
dressed in frantic haste, as if it were necessary for him to get out of the house as 
quickly as possible. He did not know where he wished to go, but felt that once 
more he would have to sacrifice his classes. The odd pull toward that spot in the 
sky between Hydra and Argo had abated, but another of even greater strength 
had taken its place. Now he felt that he must go north - infinitely north. He 
dreaded to cross the bridge that gave a view of the desolate island in the 
Miskatonic, so went over the Peabody Avenue bridge. Very often he stumbled, 
for his eyes and ears were chained to an extremely lofty point in the blank blue 
sky. 

After about an hour he got himself under better control, and saw that he was far 
from the city. All around him stretched the bleak emptiness of salt marshes, 
while the narrow road ahead led to Innsmouth - that ancient, half-deserted town 
which Arkham people were so curiously unwilling to visit. Though the 
northward pull had not diminished, he resisted it as he had resisted the other 
pull, and finally found that he could almost balance the one against the other. 
Plodding back to town and getting some coffee at a soda fountain, he dragged 
himself into the public library and browsed aimlessly among the lighter 
magazines. Once he met some friends who remarked how oddly sunburned he 
looked, but he did not tell them of his walk. At three o'clock he took some lunch 
at a restaurant, noting meanwhile that the pull had either lessened or divided 
itself. After that he killed the time at a cheap cinema show, seeing the inane 
performance over and over again without paying any attention to it. 

About nine at night he drifted homeward and shuffled into the ancient house. 
Joe Mazurewicz was whining unintelligible prayers, and Gilman hastened up to 
his own garret chamber without pausing to see if Elwood was in. It was when he 
turned on the feeble electric light that the shock came. At once he saw there was 
something on the table which did not belong there, and a second look left no 
room for doubt. Lying on its side - for it could not stand up alone - was the exotic 
spiky figure which in his monstrous dream he had broken off the fantastic 
balustrade. No detail was missing. The ridged, barrel-shaped center, the thin 
radiating arms, the knobs at each end, and the flat, slightly outward-curving 
starfish-arms spreading from those knobs - all were there. In the electric light the 
colour seemed to be a kind of iridescent grey veined with green; and Gilman 
could see amidst his horror and bewilderment that one of the knobs ended in a 
jagged break, corresponding to its former point of attachment to the dream- 
railing. 

Only his tendency toward a dazed stupor prevented him from screaming aloud. 
This fusion of dream and reality was too much to bear. Still dazed, he clutched at 



132 



the spiky thing and staggered downstairs to Landlord Dombrowski's quarters. 
The whining prayers of the superstitious loom-fixer were still sounding through 
the mouldy halls, but Gilman did not mind them now. The landlord was in, and 
greeted him pleasantly. No, he had not seen that thing before and did not know 
anything about it. But his wife had said she found a funny tin thing in one of the 
beds when she fixed the rooms at noon, and maybe that was it. Dombrowski 
called her, and she waddled in. Yes, that was the thing. She had found it in the 
young gentleman's bed - on the side next the wall. It had looked very queer to 
her, but of course the young gentleman had lots of queer things in his room - 
books and curios and pictures and markings on paper. She certainly knew 
nothing about it. 

So Gilman climbed upstairs again in mental turmoil, convinced that he was 
either still dreaming or that his somnambulism had run to incredible extremes 
and led him to depredations in unknown places. Where had he got this outre 
thing? He did not recall seeing it in any museum in Arkham. It must have been 
somewhere, though; and the sight of it as he snatched it in his sleep must have 
caused the odd dream- picture of the balustraded terrace. Next day he would 
make some very guarded inquiries - and perhaps see the nerve specialist. 

Meanwhile he would try to keep track of his somnambulism. As he went 
upstairs and across the garret hall he sprinkled about some flour which he had 
borrowed - with a frank admission as to its purpose - from the landlord. He had 
stopped at Elwood's door on the way, but had found all dark within. Entering 
his room, he placed the spiky thing on the table, and lay down in complete 
mental and physical exhaustion without pausing to undress. From the closed loft 
above the slating ceiling he thought he heard a faint scratching and padding, but 
he was too disorganized even to mind it. That cryptical pull from the north was 
getting very strong again, though it seemed now to come from a lower place in 
the sky. 

In the dazzling violet light of dream the old woman and the fanged, furry thing 
came again and with a greater distinctness than on any former occasion. This 
time they actually reached him, and he felt the crone's withered claws clutching 
at him. He was pulled out of bed and into empty space, and for a moment he 
heard a rhythmic roaring and saw the twilight amorphousness of the vague 
abysses seething around him. But that moment was very brief, for presently he 
was in a crude, windowless little space with rough beams and planks rising to a 
peak just above his head, and with a curious slanting floor underfoot. Propped 
level on that floor were low cases full of books of every degree of antiquity and 
disintegration, and in the centre were a table and bench, both apparently 
fastened in place. Small objects of unknown shape and nature were ranged on 
the tops of the cases, and in the flaming violet light Gilman thought he saw a 



133 



counterpart of the spiky image which had puzzled him so horribly. On the left 
the floor fell abruptly away, leaving a black triangular gulf out of which, after a 
second's dry rattling, there presently climbed the hateful little furry thing with 
the yellow fangs and bearded human face. 

The evilly-grinning beldame still clutched him, and beyond the table stood a 
figure he had never seen before - a tall, lean man of dead black colouration but 
without the slightest sign of negroid features: wholly devoid of either hair or 
beard, and wearing as his only garment a shapeless robe of some heavy black 
fabric. His feet were indistinguishable because of the table and bench, but he 
must have been shod, since there was a clicking whenever he changed position. 
The man did not speak, and bore no trace of expression on his small, regular 
features. He merely pointed to a book of prodigious size which lay open on the 
table, while the beldame thrust a huge grey quill into Gilman's right hand. Over 
everything was a pall of intensely maddening fear, and the climax was reached 
when the furry thing ran up the dreamer's clothing to his shoulders and then 
down his left arm, finally biting him sharply in the wrist just below his cuff. As 
the blood spurted from this wound Gilman lapsed into a faint. 

He awaked on the morning of the twenty-second with a pain in his left wrist, and 
saw that his cuff was brown with dried blood. His recollections were very 
confused, but the scene with the black man in the unknown space stood out 
vividly. The rats must have bitten him as he slept, giving rise to the climax of that 
frightful dream. Opening the door, he saw that the flour on the corridor floor 
was undisturbed except for the huge prints of the loutish fellow who roomed at 
the other end of the garret. So he had not been sleep-walking this time. But 
something would have to be done about those rats. He would speak to the 
landlord about them. Again he tried to stop up the hole at the base of the slanting 
wall, wedging in a candlestick which seemed of about the right size. His ears 
were ringing horribly, as if with the residual echoes of some horrible noise heard 
in dreams. 

As he bathed and changed clothes he tried to recall what he had dreamed after 
the scene in the violet-litten space, but nothing definite would crystallize in his 
mind. That scene itself must have corresponded to the sealed loft overhead, 
which had begun to attack his imagination so violently, but later impressions 
were faint and hazy. There were suggestions of the vague, twilight abysses, and 
of still vaster, blacker abysses beyond them - abysses in which all fixed 
suggestions were absent. He had been taken there by the bubble- congeries and 
the little polyhedron which always dogged him; but they, like himself, had 
changed to wisps of mist in this farther void of ultimate blackness. Something 
else had gone on ahead - a larger wisp which now and then condensed into 
nameless approximations of form - and he thought that their progress had not 



134 



been in a straight line, but rather along the alien curves and spirals of some 
ethereal vortex which obeyed laws unknown to the physics and mathematics of 
any conceivable cosmos. Eventually there had been a hint of vast, leaping 
shadows, of a monstrous, half-acoustic pulsing, and of the thin, monotonous 
piping of an unseen flute - but that was all. Gilman decided he had picked up 
that last conception from what he had read in the Necronomicon about the 
mindless entity Azathoth, which rules all time and space from a black throne at 
the centre of Chaos. 

When the blood was washed away the wrist wound proved very slight, and 
Gilman puzzled over the location of the two tiny punctures. It occurred to him 
that there was no blood on the bedspread where he had lain - which was very 
curious in view of the amount on his skin and cuff. Had he been sleep-walking 
within his room, and had the rat bitten him as he sat in some chair or paused in 
some less rational position? He looked in every corner for brownish drops or 
stains, but did not find any. He had better, he thought, spinkle flour within the 
room as well as outside the door - though after all no further proof of his sleep- 
walking was needed. He knew he did walk and the thing to do now was to stop 
it. He must ask Frank Elwood for help. This morning the strange pulls from 
space seemed lessened, though they were replaced by another sensation even 
more inexplicable. It was a vague, insistent impulse to fly away from his present 
situation, but held not a hint of the specific direction in which he wished to fly. 
As he picked up the strange spiky image on the table he thought the older 
northward pull grew a trifle stronger; but even so, it was wholly overruled by 
the newer and more bewildering urge. 

He took the spiky image down to Elwood's room, steeling himself against the 
whines of the loom-fixer which welled up from the ground floor. Elwood was in, 
thank heaven, and appeared to be stirring about. There was time for a little 
conversation before leaving for breakfast and college, so Gilman hurriedly 
poured forth an account of his recent dreams and fears. His host was very 
sympathetic, and agreed that something ought to be done. He was shocked by 
his guest's drawn, haggard aspect, and noticed the queer, abnormal-looking 
sunburn which others had remarked during the past week. 

There was not much, though, that he could say. He had not seen Gilman on any 
sleep-walking expedition, and had no idea what the curious image could be. He 
had, though, heard the French-Canadian who lodged just under Gilman talking 
to Mazurewicz one evening. They were telling each other how badly they 
dreaded the coming of Walpurgis Night, now only a few days off; and were 
exchanging pitying comments about the poor, doomed young gentleman. 
Desrochers, the fellow under Gilman's room, had spoken of nocturnal footsteps 
shod and unshod, and of the violet light he saw one night when he had stolen 



135 



fearfully up to peer through Gilman's keyhole. He had not dared to peer, he told 
Mazurewicz, after he had glimpsed that light through the cracks around the 
door. There had been soft talking, too - and as he began to describe it his voice 
had sunk to an inaudible whisper. 

Elwood could not imagine what had set these superstitious creatures gossiping, 
but supposed their imaginations had been roused by Gilman's late hours and 
somnolent walking and talking on the one hand, and by the nearness of 
traditionally-feared May Eve on the other hand. That Oilman talked in his sleep 
was plain, and it was obviously from Desrochers' keyhole listenings that the 
delusive notion of the violet dream-light had got abroad. These simple people 
were quick to imagine they had seen any odd thing they had heard about. As for 
a plan of action - Gilman had better move down to Elwood's room and avoid 
sleeping alone. Elwood would, if awake, rouse him whenever he began to talk or 
rise in his sleep. Very soon, too, he must see the specialist. Meanwhile they 
would take the spiky image around to the various museums and to certain 
professors; seeking identification and slating that it had been found in a public 
rubbish-can. Also, Dombrowski must attend to the poisoning of those rats in the 
walls. 

Braced up by Elwood's companionship, Gilman attended classes that day. 
Strange urges still tugged at him, but he could sidetrack them with considerable 
success. During a free period he showed the queer image to several professors, 
all of whom were intensely interested, though none of them could shed any light 
upon its nature or origin. That night he slept on a couch which Elwood had had 
the landlord bring to the second-storey room, and for the first time in weeks was 
wholly free from disquieting dreams. But the feverishness still hung on, and the 
whines of the loom-fixer were an unnerving influence. 

During the next few days Gilman enjoyed an almost perfect immunity from 
morbid manifestations. He had, Elwood said, showed no tendency to talk or rise 
in his sleep; and meanwhile the landlord was putting rat-poison everywhere. 
The only disturbing element was the talk among the superstitious foreigners, 
whose imaginations had become highly excited. Mazurewicz was always trying 
to make him get a crucifix, and finally forced one upon him which he said had 
been blessed by the good Father Iwanicki. Desrochers, too, had something to say; 
in fact, he insisted that cautious steps had sounded in the now vacant room 
above him on the first and second nights of Gilinan's absence from it. Paul 
Choynski thought he heard sounds in the halls and on the stairs at night, and 
claimed that his door had been softly tried, while Mrs. Dombrowski vowed she 
had seen Brown Jenkin for the first time since All-Hallows. But such naive 
reports could mean very little, and Gilman let the cheap metal crucifix hang idly 
from a knob on his host's dresser. 



136 



For three days Gilman and Elwood canvassed the local museums in an effort to 
identify the strange spiky image, but always without success. In every quarter, 
however, interest was intense; for the utter alienage of the thing was a 
tremendous challenge to scientific curiosity. One of the small radiating arms was 
broken off and subjected to chemical analysis. Professor Ellery found platinum, 
iron and tellurium in the strange alloy; but mixed with these were at least three 
other apparent elements of high atomic weight which chemistry was absolutely 
powerless to classify. Not only did they fail to correspond with any known 
element, but they did not even fit the vacant places reserved for probable 
elements in the periodic system. The mystery remains unsolved to this day, 
though the image is on exhibition at the museum of Miskatonic University. 

On the morning of April twenty-seventh a fresh rat-bole appeared in the room 
where Gilman was a guest, but Dombrowski tinned it up during the day. The 
poison was not having much effect, for scratchings and scurryings in the walls 
were virtually undiminished. 

Elwood was out late that night, and Gilman waited up for him. He did not wish 
to go to sleep in a room alone - especially since he thought he had glimpsed in 
the evening twilight the repellent old woman whose image had become so 
horribly transferred to his dreams. He wondered who she was, and what had 
been near her rattling the tin can in a rubbish-heap at the mouth of a squalid 
courtyard. The crone had seemed to notice him and leer evilly at him - though 
perhaps this was merely his imagination. 

The next day both youths felt very tired, and knew they would sleep like logs 
when night came. In the evening they drowsily discussed the mathematical 
studies which had so completely and perhaps harmfully engrossed Gilman, and 
speculated about the linkage with ancient magic and folklore which seemed so 
darkly probable. They spoke of old Keziah Mason, and Elwood agreed that 
Gilman had good scientific grounds for thinking she might have stumbled on 
strange and significant information. The hidden cults to which these witches 
belonged often guarded and handed down surprising secrets from elder, 
forgotten eons; and it was by no means impossible that Keziah had actually 
mastered the art of passing through dimensional gates. Tradition emphasizes the 
uselessness of material barriers in halting a witch's notions, and who can say 
what underlies the old tales of broomstick rides through the night? 

Whether a modern student could ever gain similar powers from mathematical 
research alone, was still to be seen. Suceess, Gilman added, might lead to 
dangerous and unthinkable situations, for who could foretell the conditions 
pervading an adjacent but normally inaccessible dimension? On the other hand, 
the picturesque possibilities were enormous. Time could not exist in certain belts 



137 



of space, and by entering and remaining in such a belt one might preserve one's 
hfe and age indefinitely; never suffering organic metabolism or deterioration 
except for slight amounts incurred during visits to one's own or similar planes. 
One might, for example, pass into a timeless dimension and emerge at some 
remote period of the earth's history as young as before. 

Whether anybody had ever managed to do this, one could hardly conjecture with 
any degree of authority. Old legends are hazy and ambiguous, and in historic 
times all attempts at crossing forbidden gaps seem complicated by strange and 
terrible alliances with beings and messengers from outside. There was the 
immemorial figure of the deputy or messenger of hidden and terrible powers - 
the "Black Man" of the witch-cult, and the "Nyarlathotep" of the Necronomicon. 
There was, too, the baffling problem of the lesser messengers or intermediaries - 
the quasi-animals and queer hybrids which legend depicts as witches' familiars. 
As Oilman and Elwood retired, too sleepy to argue further, they heard Joe 
Mazurewicz reel into the house half drunk, and shuddered at the desperate 
wildness of his whining prayers. 

That night Oilman saw the violet light again. In his dream he had heard a 
scratching and gnawing in the partitions, and thought that someone fumbled 
clumsily at the latch. Then he saw the old woman and the small furry thing 
advancing toward him over the carpeted floor. The beldame's face was alight 
with inhuman exultation, and the little yellow-toothed morbidity tittered 
mockingly as it pointed at the heavily- sleeping form of Elwood on the other 
couch across the room. A paralysis of fear stifled all attempts to cry out. As once 
before, the hideous crone seized Oilman by the shoulders, yanking him out of 
bed and into empty space. Again the infinitude of the shrieking abysses flashed 
past him, but in another second he thought he was in a dark, muddy, unknown 
alley of foetid odors with the rotting walls of ancient houses towering up on 
every hand. 

Ahead was the robed black man he had seen in the peaked space in the other 
dream, while from a lesser distance the old woman was beckoning and 
grimacing imperiously. Brown Jenkin was rubbing itself with a kind of 
affectionate playfulness around the ankles of the black man, which the deep mud 
largely concealed. There was a dark open doorway on the right, to which the 
black man silently pointed. Into this the grinning crone started, dragging Oilman 
after her by his pajama sleeves. There were evil-smelling staircases which 
creaked ominously, and on which the old woman seemed to radiate a faint violet 
light; and finally a door leading off a landing. The crone fumbled with the latch 
and pushed the door open, motioning to Oilman to wait, and disappearing inside 
the black aperture. 



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The youth's over-sensitive ears caught a hideous strangled cry, and presently the 
beldame came out of the room bearing a small, senseless form which she thrust 
at the dreamer as if ordering him to carry it. The sight of this form, and the 
expression on its face, broke the spell. Still too dazed to cry out, he plunged 
recklessly down the noisome staircase and into the mud outside, halting only 
when seized and choked by the waiting black man. As consciousness departed 
he heard the faint, shrill tittering of the fanged, rat-like abnormality. 

On the morning of the twenty-ninth Gilman awaked into a maelstrom of horror. 
The instant he opened his eyes he knew something was terribly wrong, for he 
was back in his old garret room with the slanting wall and ceiling, sprawled on 
the now unmade bed. His throat was aching inexplicably, and as he struggled to 
a sitting posture he saw with growing fright that his feet and pajama bottoms 
were brown with caked mud. For the moment his recollections were hopelessly 
hazy, but he knew at least that he must have been sleep-walking. Elwood had 
been lost too deeply in slumber to hear and stop him. On the floor were confused 
muddy prints, but oddly enough they did not extend all the way to the door. The 
more Gilman looked at them, the more peculiar they seemed; for in addition to 
those he could recognize as his there were some smaller, almost round markings 
- such as the legs of a large chair or a table might make, except that most of them 
tended to be divided into halves. There were also some curious muddy rat-tracks 
leading out of a fresh hole and back into it again. Utter bewilderment and the 
fear of madness racked Gilman as he staggered to the door and saw that there 
were no muddy prints outside. The more he remembered of his hideous dream 
the more terrified he felt, and it added to his desperation to hear Joe Mazurewicz 
chanting mournfully two floors below. 

Descending to Elwood's room he roused his still-sleeping host and began telling 
of how he had found himself, but Elwood could form no idea of what might 
really have happened. Where Gilman could have been, how he got back to his 
room without making tracks in the hall, and how the muddy, furniture-like 
prints came to be mixed with his in the garret chamber, were wholly beyond 
conjecture. Then there were those dark, livid marks on his throat, as if he had 
tried to strangle himself. He put his hands up to them, but found that they did 
not even approximately fit. While they were talking, Desrochers dropped in to 
say that he had heard a terrific clattering overhead in the dark small hours. No, 
there had been no one on the stairs after midnight, though just before midnight 
he had heard faint footfalls in the garret, and cautiously descending steps he did 
not like. It was, he added, a very bad time of year for Arkham. The young 
gentleman had better be sure to wear the circifix Joe Mazurewicz had given him. 
Even the daytime was not safe, for after dawn there had been strange sounds in 
the house - especially a thin, childish wail hastily choked off. 



139 



Gilman mechanically attended classes that morning, but was wholly unable to fix 
his mind on his studies. A mood of hideous apprehension and expectancy had 
seized him, and he seemed to be awaiting the fall of some annihilating blow. At 
noon he lunched at the University spa, picking up a paper from the next seat as 
he waited for dessert. But he never ate that dessert; for an item on the paper's 
first page left him limp, wild-eyed, and able only to pay his check and stagger 
back to Elwood's room. 

There had been a strange kidnapping the night before in Orne's Gangway, and 
the two-year-old child of a clod-like laundry worker named Anastasia Wolejko 
had completely vanished from sight. The mother, it appeared, had feared the 
event for some time; but the reasons she assigned for her fear were so grotesque 
that no one took them seriously. She had, she said, seen Brown Jenkin about the 
place now and then ever since early in March, and knew from its grimaces and 
titterings that little Ladislas must be marked for sacrifice at the awful Sabbat on 
Walpurgis Night. She had asked her neighbour Mary Czanek to sleep in the 
room and try to protect the child, but Mary had not dared. She could not tell the 
police, for they never believed such things. Children had been taken that way 
every year ever since she could remember. And her friend Pete Stowacki would 
not help because he wanted the child out of the way. 

But what threw Gilman into a cold perspiration was the report of a pair of 
revellers who had been walking past the mouth of the gangway just after 
midnight. They admitted they had been drunk, but both vowed they had seen a 
crazily dressed trio furtively entering the dark passageway. There had, they said, 
been a huge robed negro, a little old woman in rags, and a young white man in 
his night-clothes. The old woman had been dragging the youth, while around the 
feet of the negro a tame rat was rubbing and weaving in the brown mud. 

Gilman sat in a daze all the afternoon, and Elwood - who had meanwhile seen 
the papers and formed terrible conjectures from them - found him thus when he 
came home. This time neither could doubt but that something hideously serious 
was closing in around them. Between the phantasms of nightmare and the 
realities of the objective world a monstrous and unthinkable relationship was 
crystallizing, and only stupendous vigilance could avert still more direful 
developments. Gilman must see a specialist sooner or later, but not just now, 
when all the papers were full of this kidnapping business. 

Just what had really happened was maddeningly obscure, and for a moment 
both Gilman and Elwood exchanged whispered theories of the wildest kind. Had 
Gilman unconsciously succeeded better than he knew in his studies of space and 
its dimensions? Had he actually slipped outside our sphere to points unguessed 
and unimaginable? Where - if anywhere - had he been on those nights of 



140 



demoniac alienage? The roaring twilight abysses - the green hillside - the 
blistering terrace - the pulls from the stars - the ultimate black vortex - the black 
man - the muddy alley and the stairs - the old witch and the fanged, furry horror 

- the bubble-congeries and the little polyhedron - the strange sunburn - the wrist- 
wound - the unexplained image - the muddy feet - the throat marks - the tales 
and fears of the superstitious foreigners - what did all this mean? To what extent 
could the laws of sanity apply to such a case? 

There was no sleep for either of them that night, but next day they both cut 
classes and drowsed. This was April thirtieth, and with the dusk would come the 
hellish Sabbat-time which all the foreigners and the superstitious old folk feared. 
Mazurewicz came home at six o'clock and said people at the mill were 
whispering that the Walpurgis revels would be held in the dark ravine beyond 
Meadow Hill where the old white stone stands in a place queerly devoid of all 
plant-life. Some of them had even told the police and advised them to look there 
for the missing Wolejko child, but they did not believe anything would be done. 
Joe insisted that the poor young gentleman wear his nickel-chained crucifix, and 
Gilman put it on and dropped it inside his shirt to humour the fellow. 

Late at night the two youths sat drowsing in their chairs, lulled by the praying of 
the loom-fixer on the floor below. Gilman listened as he nodded, his 
preternaturally sharpened hearing seeming to strain for some subtle, dreaded 
murmur beyond the noises in the ancient house. Unwholesome recollections of 
things in the Necronomicon and the Black Book welled up, and he found himself 
swaying to infandous rhythms said to pertain to the blackest ceremonies of the 
Sabbat and to have an origin outside the time and space we comprehend. 

Presently he realized what he was listening for - the hellish chant of the 
celebrants in the distant black valley. How did he know so much about what 
they expected? How did he know the time when Nahab and her acolyte were 
due to bear the brimming bowl which would follow the black cock and the black 
goat? He saw that Elwood had dropped asleep, and tried to call out and waken 
him. Something, however, closed his throat. He was not his own master. Had he 
signed the black man's book after all? 

Then his fevered, abnormal hearing caught the distant, windborne notes. Over 
miles of hill and field and alley they came, but he recognized them none the less. 
The fires must be lit, and the dancers must be starting in. How could he keep 
himself from going? What was it that had enmeshed him? Mathematics - folklore 

- the house - old Keziah - Brown Jenkin . . . and now he saw that there was a fresh 
rat-hole in the wall near his couch. Above the distant chanting and the nearer 
praying of Joe Mazurewicz came another sound - a stealthy, determined 
scratching in the partitions. He hoped the electric lights would not go out. Then 



141 



he saw the fanged, bearded Httle face in the rat-hole - the accursed httle face 
which he at last realized bore such a shocking, mocking resemblance to old 
Keziah's - and heard the faint fumbling at the door. 

The screaming twilight abysses flashed before him, and he felt himself helpless 
in the formless grasp of the iridescent bubble-congeries. Ahead raced the small, 
kaleidoscopic polyhedron and all through the churning void there was a 
heightening and acceleration of the vague tonal pattern which seemed to 
foreshadow some unutterable and unendurable climax. He seemed to know 
what was coming - the monstrous burst of Walpurgis-rhythm in whose cosmic 
timbre would be concentrated all the primal, ultimate space-time seethings 
which lie behind the massed spheres of matter and sometimes break forth in 
measured reverberations that penetrate faintly to every layer of entity and give 
hideous significance throughout the worlds to certain dreaded periods. 

But all this vanished in a second. He was again in the cramped, violet-litten 
peaked space with the slanting floor, the low cases of ancient books, the bench 
and table, the queer objects, and the triangular gulf at one side. On the table lay a 
small white figure - an infant boy, unclothed and unconscious - while on the 
other side stood the monstrous, leering old woman with a gleaming, grotesque- 
hafted knife in her right hand, and a queerly proportioned pale metal bowl 
covered with curiously chased designs and having delicate lateral handles in her 
left. She was intoning some croaking ritual in a language which Gilman could 
not understand, but which seemed like something guardedly quoted in the 
Necronomicon. 

As the scene grew clearer he saw the ancient crone bend forward and extend the 
empty bowl across the table - and unable to control his own emotions, he 
reached far forward and took it in both hands, noticing as he did so its 
comparative lightness. At the same moment the disgusting form of Brown Jenkin 
scrambled up over the brink of the triangular black gulf on his left. The crone 
now motioned him to hold the bowl in a certain position while she raised the 
huge, grotesque knife above the small white victim as high as her right hand 
could reach. The fanged, furry thing began tittering a continuation of the 
unknown ritual, while the witch croaked loathsome responses. Gilman felt a 
gnawing poignant abhorrence shoot through his mental and emotional paralysis, 
and the light metal bowl shook in his grasp. A second later the downward 
motion of the knife broke the spell conpletely, and he dropped the bowl with a 
resounding bell-like clangour while his hands darted out frantically to stop the 
monstrous deed. 

In an instant he had edged up the slanting floor around the end of the table and 
wrenched the knife from the old woman's claws; sending it clattering over the 



142 



brink of the narrow triangular gulf. In another instant, however, matters were 
reversed; for those murderous claws had locked themselves tightly around his 
own throat, while the wrinkled face was twisted with insane fury. He felt the 
chain of the cheap crucifix grinding into his neck, and in his peril wondered how 
the sight of the object itself would affect the evil creature. Her strength was 
altogether superhuman, but as she continued her choking he reached feebly in 
his shirt and drew out the metal symbol, snapping the chain and pulling it free. 

At sight of the device the witch seemed struck with panic, and her grip relaxed 
long enough to give Gilman a chance to break it entirely. He pulled the steel-like 
claws from his neck, and would have dragged the beldame over the edge of the 
gulf had not the claws received a fresh access of strength and closed in again. 
This time he resolved to reply in kind, and his own hands reached out for the 
creature's throat. Before she saw what he was doing he had the chain of the 
crucifix twisted about her neck, and a moment later he had tightened it enough 
to cut off her breath. During her last struggle he felt something bite at his ankle, 
and saw that Brown Jenkin had come to her aid. With one savage kick he sent the 
morbidity over the edge of the gulf and heard it whimper on some level far 
below. 

Whether he had killed the ancient crone he did not know, but he let her rest on 
the floor where she had fallen. Then, as he turned away, he saw on the table a 
sight which nearly snapped the last thread of his reason. Brown Jenkin, tough of 
sinew and with four tiny hands of demoniac dexterity, had been busy while the 
witch was throttling him, and his efforts had been in vain. What he had 
prevented the knife from doing to the victim's chest, the yellow fangs of the furry 
blasphemy had done to a wrist - and the bowl so lately on the floor stood full 
beside the small lifeless body. 

In his dream-delirium Gilman heard the hellish alien-rhythmed chant of the 
Sabbat coming from an infinite distance, and knew the black man must be there. 
Confused memories mixed themselves with his mathematics, and he believed his 
subconscious mind held the angles which he needed to guide him back to the 
normal world alone and unaided for the first time. He felt sure he was in the 
immemorially sealed loft above his own room, but whether he could ever escape 
through the slanting floor or the long-stooped egress he doubted greatly. 
Besides, would not an escape from a dream-loft bring him merely into a dream- 
house - an abnormal projection of the actual place he sought? He was wholly 
bewildered as to the relation betwixt dream and reality in all his experiences. 

The passage through the vague abysses would be frightful, for the Walpurgis- 
rhythm would be vibrating, and at last he would have to hear that hitherto- 
veiled cosmic pulsing which he so mortally dreaded. Even now he could detect a 



143 



low, monstrous shaking whose tempo he suspected all too well. At Sabbat-time it 
always mounted and reached through to the worlds to summon the initiate to 
nameless rites. Half the chants of the Sabbat were patterned on this faintly 
overheard pulsing which no earthly ear could endure in its unveiled spatial 
fulness. Gilman wondered, too, whether he could trust his instincts to take him 
back to the right part of space. How could he be sure he would not land on that 
green-litten hillside of a far planet, on the tessellated terrace above the city of 
tentacled monsters somewhere beyond the galaxy or in the spiral black vortices 
of that ultimate void of Chaos where reigns the mindless demon-sultan 
Azathoth? 

Just before he made the plunge the violet light went out and left him in utter 
blackness. The witch - old Keziah - Nahab - that must have meant her death. And 
mixed with the distant chant of the Sabbat and the whimpers of Brown Jenkin in 
the gulf below he thought he heard another and wilder whine from unknown 
depths. Joe Mazurewicz - the prayers against the Crawling Chaos now turning to 
an inexplicably triumphant shriek - worlds of sardonic actuality impinging on 
vortices of febrile dream - la! Shub-Niggurath! The Goat with a Thousand 
Young... 

They found Gilman on the floor of his queerly-angled old garret room long 
before dawn, for the terrible cry had brought Desrochers and Choynski and 
Dombrowski and Mazurewicz at once, and had even wakened the soundly 
sleeping Elwood in his chair. He was alive, and with open, staring eyes, but 
seemed largely unconscious. On his throat were the marks of murderous hands, 
and on his left ankle was a distressing rat-bite. His clothing was badly rumpled 
and Joe's crucifix was missing, Elwood trembled, afraid even to speculate what 
new form his friend's sleep-walking had taken. Mazurewicz seemed half dazed 
because of a "sign" he said he had had in response to his prayers, and he crossed 
himself frantically when the squealing and whimpering of a rat sounded from 
beyond the slanting partition. 

When the dreamer was settled on his couch in Elwood's room they sent for 
Doctor Malkowski - a local practitioner who would repeat no tales where they 
might prove embarrassing - and he gave Gilman two hypodermic injections 
which caused him to relax in something like natural drowsiness. During the day 
the patient regained consciousness at times and whispered his newest dream 
disjointedly to Elwood. It was a painful process, and at its very start brought out 
a fresh and disconcerting fact. 

Gilman - whose ears had so lately possessed an abnormal sensitiveness - was 
now stone-deaf. Doctor Malkowski, summoned again in haste, told Elwood that 
both ear-drums were ruptured, as if by the impact of some stupendous sound 



144 



intense beyond all human conception or endurance. How such a sound could 
have been heard in the last few hours without arousing all the Miskatonic Valley 
was more than the honest physician could say. 

Elwood wrote his part of the colloquy on paper, so that a fairly easy 
communication was maintained. Neither knew what to make of the whole 
chaotic business, and decided it would be better if they thought as little as 
possible about it. Both, though, agreed that they must leave this ancient and 
accursed house as soon as it could be arranged. Evening papers spoke of a police 
raid on some curious revellers in a ravine beyond Meadow Hill just before dawn, 
and mentioned that the white stone there was an object of age- long superstitious 
regard. Nobody had been caught, but among the scattering fugitives had been 
glimpsed a huge negro. In another column it was stated that no trace of the 
missing child Ladislas Wolejko had been found. 

The crowning horror came that very night. Elwood will never forget it, and was 
forced to stay out of college the rest of the term because of the resulting nervous 
breakdown. He had thought he heard rats in the partition all the evening, but 
paid little attention to them. Then, long after both he and Gilman had retired, the 
atrocious shrieking began. Elwood jumped up, turned on the lights and rushed 
over to his guest's couch. The occupant was emitting sounds of veritably 
inhuman nature, as if racked by some torment beyond description. He was 
writhing under the bedclothes, and a great stain was beginning to appear on the 
blankets. 

Elwood scarcely dared to touch him, but gradually the screaming and writhing 
subsided. By this time Dombrowski, Choynski, Desrochers, Mazurewicz, and the 
top-floor lodger were all crowding into the doorway, and the landlord had sent 
his wife back to telephone for Doctor Malkowaki. Everybody shrieked when a 
large rat-like form suddenly jumped out from beneath the ensanguined 
bedclothes and scuttled across the floor to a fresh, open hole close by. When the 
doctor arrived and began to pull down those frightful covers Walter Gilman was 
dead. 

It would be barbarous to do more than suggest what had killed Gilman. There 
had been virtually a tunnel through his body - something had eaten his heart out. 
Dombrowski, frantic at the failure of his rat- poisoning efforts, cast aside all 
thought of his lease and within a week had moved with all his older lodgers to a 
dingy but less ancient house in Walnut Street. The worst thing for a while was 
keeping Joe Mazurewicz quiet; for the brooding loom-fixer would never stay 
sober, and was constantly whining and muttering about spectral and terrible 
things. 



145 



It seems that on that last hideous night Joe had stooped to look at the crimson 
rat-tracks which led from Gilman's couch to the near-by hole. On the carpet they 
were very indistinct, but a piece of open flooring intervened between the carpet's 
edge and the baseboard. There Mazurewicz had found something monstrous - or 
thought he had, for no one else could quite agree with him despite the 
undeniable queerness of the prints. The tracks on the flooring were certainly 
vastly unlike the average prints of a rat but even Choynski and Desrochers 
would not admit that they were like the prints of four tiny human hands. 

The house was never rented again. As soon as Dombrowski left it the pall of its 
final desolation began to descend, for people shunned it both on account of its 
old reputation and because of the new foetid odour. Perhaps the ex-landlord's 
rat-poison had worked after all, for not long after his departure the place became 
a neighbourhood nuisance. Health officials traced the smell to the closed spaces 
above and beside the eastern garret room, and agreed that the number of dead 
rats must be enormous. They decided, however, that it was not worth their while 
to hew open and disinfect the long-sealed spaces; for the foetor would soon be 
over, and the locality was not one which encouraged fastidious standards. 
Indeed, there were always vague local tales of unexplained stenches upstairs in 
the Witch-House just after May-Eve and Hallowmass. The neighbours 
acquiesced in the inertia - but the foetor none the less formed an additional count 
against the place. Toward the last the house was condemned as a habitation by 
the building inspector. 

Gilman's dreams and their attendant circumstances have never been explained. 
Elwood, whose thoughts on the entire episode are sometimes almost maddening, 
came back to college the next autumn and was graduated in the following June. 
He found the spectral gossip of the town much disminished, and it is indeed a 
fact that - notwithstanding certain reports of a ghostly tittering in the deserted 
house which lasted almost as long as that edifice itself - no fresh appearances 
either of Old Keziah or of Brown Jenkin have been muttered of since Gilman's 
death. It is rather fortunate that Elwood was not in Arkham in that later year 
when certain events abruptly renewed the local whispers about elder horrors. Of 
course he heard about the matter afterward and suffered untold torments of 
black and bewildered speculation; but even that was not as bad as actual 
nearness and several possible sights would have been. 

In March, 1931, a gale wrecked the roof and great chimney of the vacant Witch- 
House, so that a chaos of crumbling bricks, blackened, moss-grown shingles, and 
rotting planks and timbers crashed down into the loft and broke through the 
floor beneath. The whole attic storey was choked with debris from above, but no 
one took the trouble to touch the mess before the inevitable razing of the decrepit 
structure. That ultimate step came in the following December, and it was when 



146 



Gilman's old room was cleared out by reluctant, apprehensive workmen that the 
gossip began. 

Among the rubbish which had crashed through the ancient slanting ceiling were 
several things which made the workmen pause and call in the police. Later the 
police in turn called in the coroner and several professors from the university. 
There were bones - badly crushed and splintered, but clearly recognizable as 
human - whose manifestly modern date conflicted puzzlingly with the remote 
period at which their only possible lurking place, the low, slant-floored loft 
overhead, had supposedly been sealed from all human access. The coroner's 
physician decided that some belonged to a small child, while certain others - 
found mixed with shreds of rotten brownish cloth - belonged to a rather 
undersized, bent female of advanced years. Careful sifting of debris also 
disclosed many tiny bones of rats caught in the collapse, as well as older rat- 
bones gnawed by small fangs in a fashion now and then highly productive of 
controversy and reflection. 

Other objects found included the mangled fragments of many books and papers, 
together with a yellowish dust left from the total disintegration of still older 
books and papers. All, without exception, appeared to deal with black magic in 
its most advanced and horrible forms; and the evidently recent date of certain 
items is still a mystery as unsolved as that of the modern human bones. An even 
greater mystery is the absolute homogeneity of the crabbed, archaic writing 
found on a wide range of papers whose conditions and watermarks suggest age 
differences of at least one hundred and fifty to two hundred years. To some, 
though, the greatest mystery of all is the variety of utterly inexplicable objects - 
objects whose shapes, materials, types of workmanship, and purposes baffle all 
conjecture - found scattered amidst the wreckage in evidently diverse states of 
injury. One of these things - which excited several Miskatonie professors 
profoundly is a badly damaged monstrosity plainly resembling the strange 
image which Oilman gave to the college museum, save that it is large, wrought 
of some peculiar bluish stone instead of metal, and possessed of a singularly 
angled pedestal with undecipherable hieroglyphics. 

Archaeologists and anthropologists are still trying to explain the bizarre designs 
chased on a crushed bowl of light metal whose inner side bore ominous 
brownish stains when found. Foreigners and credulous grandmothers are 
equally garrulous about the modern nickel crucifix with broken chain mixed in 
the rubbish and shiveringly identified by Joe Maturewicz as that which he had 
given poor Oilman many years before. Some believe this crucifix was dragged up 
to the sealed loft by rats, while others think it must have been on the floor in 
some corner of Oilman's old room at the time. Still others, including Joe himself, 
have theories too wild and fantastic for sober credence. 



147 



When the slanting wall of Gilman's room was torn out, the once-sealed 
triangular space between that partition and the house's north wall was found to 
contain much less structural debris, even in proportion to its size, than the room 
itself, though it had a ghastly layer of older materials which paralyzed the 
wreckers with horror. In brief, the floor was a veritable ossuary of the bones of 
small children - some fairly modern, but others extending back in infinite 
gradations to a period so remote that crumbling was almost complete. On this 
deep bony layer rested a knife of great size, obvious antiquity, and grotesque, 
ornate, and exotic design - above which the debris was piled. 

In the midst of this debris, wedged between a fallen plank and a cluster of 
cemented bricks from the ruined chimney, was an object destined to cause more 
bafflement, veiled fright, and openly superstitious talk in Arkham than anything 
else discovered in the haunted and accursed building. 

This object was the partly crushed skeleton of a huge diseased rat, whose 
abnormalities of form are still a topic of debate and source of singular reticence 
among the members of Miskatonic's department of comparative anatomy. Very 
little concerning this skeleton has leaked out, but the workmen who found it 
whisper in shocked tones about the long, brownish hairs with which it was 
associated. 

The bones of the tiny paws, it is rumoured, imply prehensile characteristics more 
typical of a diminutive monkey than of a rat, while the small skull with its 
savage yellow fangs is of the utmost anomalousness, appearing from certain 
angles like a miniature, monstrously degraded parody of a human skull. The 
workmen crossed themselves in fright when they came upon this blasphemy, but 
later burned candles of gratitude in St. Stanislaus' Church because of the shrill, 
ghostly tittering they felt they would never hear again. 



148 



Ex Oblivione 



Written 1920 

Published March 1921 in The United Amateur, Vol. 20, No. 4, p. 59-60. 

When the last days were upon me, and the ugly trifles of existence began to drive 
me to madness like the small drops of water that torturers let fall ceaselessly 
upon one spot of their victims body, I loved the irradiate refuge of sleep. In my 
dreams I found a little of the beauty I had vainly sought in life, and wandered 
through old gardens and enchanted woods. 

Once when the wind was soft and scented I heard the south calling, and sailed 
endlessly and languorously under strange stars. 

Once when the gentle rain fell I glided in a barge down a sunless stream under 
the earth till I reached another world of purple twilight, iridescent arbours, and 
undying roses. 

And once I walked through a golden valley that led to shadowy groves and 
ruins, and ended in a mighty wall green with antique vines, and pierced by a 
little gate of bronze. 

Many times I walked through that valley, and longer and longer would I pause 
in the spectral half-light where the giant trees squirmed and twisted grotesquely, 
and the grey ground stretched damply from trunk to trunk, some times 
disclosing the mould-stained stones of buried temples. And alway the goal of my 
fancies was the mighty vine-grown wall with the little gate of bronze therein. 

After a while, as the days of waking became less and less bearable from their 
greyness and sameness, I would often drift in opiate peace through the valley 
and the shadowy groves, and wonder how I might seize them for my eternal 
dwelling-place, so that I need no more crawl back to a dull world stript of 
interest and new colours. And as I looked upon the little gate in the mighty wall, 
I felt that beyond it lay a dream-country from which, once it was entered, there 
would be no return. 

So each night in sleep I strove to find the hidden latch of the gate in the ivied 
antique wall, though it was exceedingly well hidden. And I would tell myself 
that the realm beyond the wall was not more lasting merely, but more lovely and 
radiant as well. 



149 



Then one night in the dream-city of Zakarion I found a yellowed papyrus filled 
with the thoughts of dream-sages who dwelt of old in that city, and who were 
too wise ever to be born in the waking world. Therein were written many things 
concerning the world of dream, and among them was lore of a golden valley and 
a sacred grove with temples, and a high wall pierced by a little bronze gate. 
When I saw this lore, I knew that it touched on the scenes I had haunted, and I 
therefore read long in the yellowed papyrus. 

Some of the dream-sages wrote gorgeously of the wonders beyond the 
irrepassable gate, but others told of horror and disappointment. I knew not 
which to believe, yet longed more and more to cross for ever into the unknown 
land; for doubt and secrecy are the lure of lures, and no new horror can be more 
terrible than the daily torture of the commonplace. So when I learned of the drug 
which would unlock the gate and drive me through, I resolved to take it when 
next I awaked. 

Last night I swallowed the drug and floated dreamily into the golden valley and 
the shadowy groves; and when I came this time to the antique wall, I saw that 
the small gate of bronze was ajar. From beyond came a glow that weirdly lit the 
giant twisted trees and the tops of the buried temples, and I drifted on songfully, 
expectant of the glories of the land from whence I should never return. 

But as the gate swung wider and the sorcery of the drug and the dream pushed 
me through, I knew that all sights and glories were at an end; for in that new 
realm was neither land nor sea, but only the white void of unpeopled and 
illimitable space. So, happier than I had ever dared hope to be, I dissolved again 
into that native infinity of crystal oblivion from which the daemon Life had 
called me for one brief and desolate hour. 



150 



Facts Concerning the Late Arthur 
Jermyn and His Family 

Written 1920 

Published March 1921 in The Wolverine, No. 9, p. 3-11. 

I 

Life is a hideous thing, and from the background behind what we know of it 
peer daemoniacal hints of truth which make it sometimes a thousandfold more 
hideous. Science, already oppressive with its shocking revelations, will perhaps 
be the ultimate exterminator of our human species-if separate species we be-for 
its reserve of unguessed horrors could never be borne by mortal brains if loosed 
upon the world. If we knew what we are, we should do as Sir Arthur Jermyn did; 
and Arthur Jermyn soaked himself in oil and set fire to his clothing one night. No 
one placed the charred fragments in an urn or set a memorial to him who had 
been; for certain papers and a certain boxed object were found which made men 
wish to forget. Some who knew him do not admit that he ever existed. 

Arthur Jermyn went out on the moor and burned himself after seeing the boxed 
object which had come from Africa. It was this object, and not his peculiar 
personal appearance, which made him end his life. Many would have disliked to 
live if possessed of the peculiar features of Arthur Jermyn, but he had been a 
poet and scholar and had not minded. Learning was in his blood, for his great- 
grandfather. Sir Robert Jermyn, Bt., had been an anthropologist of note, whilst 
his great-great-great-grandfather. Sir Wade Jermyn, was one of the earliest 
explorers of the Congo region, and had written eruditely of its tribes, animals, 
and supposed antiquities. Indeed, old Sir Wade had possessed an intellectual 
zeal amounting almost to a mania; his bizarre conjectures on a prehistoric white 
Congolese civilisation earning him much ridicule when his book. Observation on 
the Several Parts of Africa, was published. In 1765 this fearless explorer had been 
placed in a madhouse at Huntingdon. 

Madness was in all the Jermyns, and people were glad there were not many of 
them. The line put forth no branches, and Arthur was the last of it. If he had not 
been, one can not say what he would have done when the object came. The 
Jermyns never seemed to look quite right-something was amiss, though Arthur 
was the worst, and the old family portraits in Jermyn House showed fine faces 
enough before Sir Wade's time. Certainly, the madness began with Sir Wade, 
whose wild stories of Africa were at once the delight and terror of his few 



151 



friends. It showed in his collection of trophies and specimens, which were not 
such as a normal man would accumulate and preserve, and appeared strikingly 
in the Oriental seclusion in which he kept his wife. The latter, he had said, was 
the daughter of a Portuguese trader whom he had met in Africa; and did not like 
English ways. She, with an infant son born in Africa, had accompanied him back 
from the second and longest of his trips, and had gone with him on the third and 
last, never returning. No one had ever seen her closely, not even the servants; for 
her disposition had been violent and singular. During her brief stay at Jermyn 
House she occupied a remote wing, and was waited on by her husband alone. Sir 
Wade was, indeed, most peculiar in his solicitude for his family; for when he 
returned to Africa he would permit no one to care for his young son save a 
loathsome black woman from Guinea. Upon coming back, after the death of 
Lady Jermyn, he himself assumed complete care of the boy. 

But it was the talk of Sir Wade, especially when in his cups, which chiefly led his 
friends to deem him mad. In a rational age like the eighteenth century it was 
unwise for a man of learning to talk about wild sights and strange scenes under a 
Congo moon; of the gigantic walls and pillars of a forgotten city, crumbling and 
vine-grown, and of damp, silent, stone steps leading interminably down into the 
darkness of abysmal treasure-vaults and inconceivable catacombs. Especially 
was it unwise to rave of the living things that might haunt such a place; of 
creatures half of the jungle and half of the impiously aged city-fabulous 
creatures which even a Pliny might describe with scepticism; things that might 
have sprung up after the great apes had overrun the dying city with the walls 
and the pillars, the vaults and the weird carvings. Yet after he came home for the 
last time Sir Wade would speak of such matters with a shudderingly uncanny 
zest, mostly after his third glass at the Knight's Head; boasting of what he had 
found in the jungle and of how he had dwelt among terrible ruins known only to 
him. And finally he had spoken of the living things in such a manner that he was 
taken to the madhouse. He had shown little regret when shut into the barred 
room at Huntingdon, for his mind moved curiously. Ever since his son had 
commenced to grow out of infancy, he had liked his home less and less, till at last 
he had seemed to dread it. The Knight's Head had been his headquarters, and 
when he was confined he expressed some vague gratitude as if for protection. 
Three years later he died. 

Wade Jermyn's son Philip was a highly peculiar person. Despite a strong 
physical resemblance to his father, his appearance and conduct were in many 
particulars so coarse that he was universally shunned. Though he did not inherit 
the madness which was feared by some, he was densely stupid and given to brief 
periods of uncontrollable violence. In frame he was small, but intensely 
powerful, and was of incredible agility. Twelve years after succeeding to his title 
he married the daughter of his gamekeeper, a person said to be of gypsy 



152 



extraction, but before his son was born joined the navy as a common sailor, 
completing the general disgust which his habits and misalliance had begun. 
After the close of the American war he was heard of as sailor on a merchantman 
in the African trade, having a kind of reputation for feats of strength and 
climbing, but finally disappearing one night as his ship lay off the Congo coast. 

In the son of Sir Philip Jermyn the now accepted family peculiarity took a strange 
and fatal turn. Tall and fairly handsome, with a sort of weird Eastern grace 
despite certain slight oddities of proportion, Robert Jermyn began life as a 
scholar and investigator. It was he who first studied scientifically the vast 
collection of relics which his mad grandfather had brought from Africa, and who 
made the family name as celebrated in ethnology as in exploration. In 1815 Sir 
Robert married a daughter of the seventh Viscount Brightholme and was 
subsequently blessed with three children, the eldest and youngest of whom were 
never publicly seen on account of deformities in mind and body. Saddened by 
these family misfortunes, the scientist sought relief in work, and made two long 
expeditions in the interior of Africa. In 1849 his second son, Nevil, a singularly 
repellent person who seemed to combine the surliness of Philip Jermyn with the 
hauteur of the Brightholmes, ran away with a vulgar dancer, but was pardoned 
upon his return in the following year. He came back to Jermyn House a widower 
with an infant son, Alfred, who was one day to be the father of Arthur Jermyn. 

Friends said that it was this series of griefs which unhinged the mind of Sir 
Robert Jermyn, yet it was probably merely a bit of African folklore which caused 
the disaster. The elderly scholar had been collecting legends of the Onga tribes 
near the field of his grandfather's and his own explorations, hoping in some way 
to account for Sir Wade's wild tales of a lost city peopled by strange hybrid 
creatures. A certain consistency in the strange papers of his ancestor suggested 
that the madman's imagination might have been stimulated by native myths. On 
October 19, 1852, the explorer Samuel Seaton called at Jermyn House with a 
manuscript of notes collected among the Ongas, believing that certain legends of 
a gray city of white apes ruled by a white god might prove valuable to the 
ethnologist. In his conversation he probably supplied many additional details; 
the nature of which will never be known, since a hideous series of tragedies 
suddenly burst into being. When Sir Robert Jermyn emerged from his library he 
left behind the strangled corpse of the explorer, and before he could be 
restrained, had put an end to all three of his children; the two who were never 
seen, and the son who had run away. Nevil Jermyn died in the successful 
defence of his own two-year-old son, who had apparently been included in the 
old man's madly murderous scheme. Sir Robert himself, after repeated attempts 
at suicide and a stubborn refusal to utter an articulate sound, died of apoplexy in 
the second year of his confinement. 



153 



Sir Alfred Jermyn was a baronet before his fourth birthday, but his tastes never 
matched his title. At twenty he had joined a band of music-hall performers, and 
at thirty-six had deserted his wife and child to travel with an itinerant American 
circus. His end was very revolting. Among the animals in the exhibition with 
which he travelled was a huge bull gorilla of lighter colour than the average; a 
surprisingly tractable beast of much popularity with the performers. With this 
gorilla Alfred Jermyn was singularly fascinated, and on many occasions the two 
would eye each other for long periods through the intervening bars. Eventually 
Jermyn asked and obtained permission to train the animal, astonishing audiences 
and fellow performers alike with his success. One morning in Chicago, as the 
gorilla and Alfred Jermyn were rehearsing an exceedingly clever boxing match, 
the former delivered a blow of more than the usual force, hurting both the body 
and the dignity of the amateur trainer. Of what followed, members of "The 
Greatest Show On Earth" do not like to speak. They did not expect to hear Sir 
Alfred Jermyn emit a shrill, inhuman scream, or to see him seize his clumsy 
antagonist with both hands, dash it to the floor of the cage, and bite fiendishly at 
its hairy throat. The gorilla was off its guard, but not for long, and before 
anything could be done by the regular trainer, the body which had belonged to a 
baronet was past recognition. 

II 

Arthur Jermyn was the son of Sir Alfred Jermyn and a music-hall singer of 
unknown origin. When the husband and father deserted his family, the mother 
took the child to Jermyn House; where there was none left to object to her 
presence. She was not without notions of what a nobleman's dignity should be, 
and saw to it that her son received the best education which limited money could 
provide. The family resources were now sadly slender, and Jermyn House had 
fallen into woeful disrepair, but young Arthur loved the old edifice and all its 
contents. He was not like any other Jermyn who had ever lived, for he was a poet 
and a dreamer. Some of the neighbouring families who had heard tales of old Sir 
Wade Jermyn's unseen Portuguese wife declared that her Latin blood must be 
showing itself; but most persons merely sneered at his sensitiveness to beauty, 
attributing it to his music-hall mother, who was socially unrecognised. The 
poetic delicacy of Arthur Jermyn was the more remarkable because of his 
uncouth personal appearance. Most of the Jermyns had possessed a subtly odd 
and repellent cast, but Arthur's case was very striking. It is hard to say just what 
he resembled, but his expression, his facial angle, and the length of his arms gave 
a thrill of repulsion to those who met him for the first time. 

It was the mind and character of Arthur Jermyn which atoned for his aspect. 
Gifted and learned, he took highest honours at Oxford and seemed likely to 
redeem the intellectual fame of his family. Though of poetic rather than scientific 



154 



temperament, he planned to continue the work of his forefathers in African 
ethnology and antiquities, utilising the truly wonderful though strange collection 
of Sir Wade. With his fanciful mind he thought often of the prehistoric 
civilisation in which the mad explorer had so implicitly believed, and would 
weave tale after tale about the silent jungle city mentioned in the latter's wilder 
notes and paragraphs. For the nebulous utterances concerning a nameless, 
unsuspected race of jungle hybrids he had a peculiar feeling of mingled terror 
and attraction, speculating on the possible basis of such a fancy, and seeking to 
obtain light among the more recent data gleaned by his great-grandfather and 
Samuel Seaton amongst the Ongas. 

In 1911, after the death of his mother. Sir Arthur Jermyn determined to pursue 
his investigations to the utmost extent. Selling a portion of his estate to obtain the 
requisite money, he outfitted an expedition and sailed for the Congo. Arranging 
with the Belgian authorities for a party of guides, he spent a year in the Onga 
and Kahn country, finding data beyond the highest of his expectations. Among 
the Kaliris was an aged chief called Mwanu, who possessed not only a highly 
retentive memory, but a singular degree of intelligence and interest in old 
legends. This ancient confirmed every tale which Jermyn had heard, adding his 
own account of the stone city and the white apes as it had been told to him. 

According to Mwanu, the gray city and the hybrid creatures were no more, 
having been annihilated by the warlike N'bangus many years ago. This tribe, 
after destroying most of the edifices and killing the live beings, had carried off 
the stuffed goddess which had been the object of their quest; the white ape- 
goddess which the strange beings worshipped, and which was held by Congo 
tradition to be the form of one who had reigned as a princess among these 
beings. Just what the white apelike creatures could have been, Mwanu had no 
idea, but he thought they were the builders of the ruined city. Jermyn could form 
no conjecture, but by close questioning obtained a very picturesque legend of the 
stuffed goddess. 

The ape-princess, it was said, became the consort of a great white god who had 
come out of the West. For a long time they had reigned over the city together, but 
when they had a son, all three went away. Later the god and princess had 
returned, and upon the death of the princess her divine husband had 
mummified the body and enshrined it in a vast house of stone, where it was 
worshipped. Then he departed alone. The legend here seemed to present three 
variants. According to one story, nothing further happened save that the stuffed 
goddess became a symbol of supremacy for whatever tribe might possess it. It 
was for this reason that the N'bangus carried it off. A second story told of a god's 
return and death at the feet of his enshrined wife. A third told of the return of the 
son, grown to manhood-or apehood or godhood, as the case might be-yet 



155 



unconscious of his identity. Surely the imaginative blacks had made the most of 
whatever events might lie behind the extravagant legendry. 

Of the reality of the jungle city described by old Sir Wade, Arthur Jermyn had no 
further doubt; and was hardly astonished when early in 1912 he came upon what 
was left of it. Its size must have been exaggerated, yet the stones lying about 
proved that it was no mere Negro village. Unfortunately no carvings could be 
found, and the small size of the expedition prevented operations toward clearing 
the one visible passageway that seemed to lead down into the system of vaults 
which Sir Wade had mentioned. The white apes and the stuffed goddess were 
discussed with all the native chiefs of the region, but it remained for a European 
to improve on the data offered by old Mwanu. M. Verhaeren, Belgian agent at a 
trading-post on the Congo, believed that he could not only locate but obtain the 
stuffed goddess, of which he had vaguely heard; since the once mighty N'bangus 
were now the submissive servants of King Albert's government, and with but 
little persuasion could be induced to part with the gruesome deity they had 
carried off. When Jermyn sailed for England, therefore, it was with the exultant 
probability that he would within a few months receive a priceless ethnological 
relic confirming the wildest of his great-great-great-grandfather's narratives-that 
is, the wildest which he had ever heard. Countrymen near Jermyn House had 
perhaps heard wilder tales handed down from ancestors who had listened to Sir 
Wade around the tables of the Knight's Head. 

Arthur Jermyn waited very patiently for the expected box from M. Verhaeren, 
meanwhile studying with increased diligence the manuscripts left by his mad 
ancestor. He began to feel closely akin to Sir Wade, and to seek relics of the 
latter's personal life in England as well as of his African exploits. Oral accounts 
of the mysterious and secluded wife had been numerous, but no tangible relic of 
her stay at Jermyn House remained. Jermyn wondered what circumstance had 
prompted or permitted such an effacement, and decided that the husband's 
insanity was the prime cause. His great-great-great-grandmother, he recalled, 
was said to have been the daughter of a Portuguese trader in Africa. No doubt 
her practical heritage and superficial knowledge of the Dark Continent had 
caused her to flout Sir Wade's tales of the interior, a thing which such a man 
would not be likely to forgive. She had died in Africa, perhaps dragged thither 
by a husband determined to prove what he had told. But as Jermyn indulged in 
these reflections he could not but smile at their futility, a century and a half after 
the death of both his strange progenitors. 

In June, 1913, a letter arrived from M. Verhaeren, telling of the finding of the 
stuffed goddess. It was, the Belgian averred, a most extraordinary object; an 
object quite beyond the power of a layman to classify. Whether it was human or 
simian only a scientist could determine, and the process of determination would 



156 



be greatly hampered by its imperfect condition. Time and the Congo chmate are 
not kind to mummies; especially when their preparation is as amateurish as 
seemed to be the case here. Around the creature's neck had been found a golden 
chain bearing an empty locket on which were armorial designs; no doubt some 
hapless traveller's keepsake, taken by the N'bangus and hung upon the goddess 
as a charm. In commenting on the contour of the mummy's face, M. Verhaeren 
suggested a whimsical comparison; or rather, expressed a humorous wonder just 
how it would strike his corespondent, but was too much interested scientifically 
to waste many words in levity. The stuffed goddess, he wrote, would arrive duly 
packed about a month after receipt of the letter. 

The boxed object was delivered at Jermyn House on the afternoon of August 3, 
1913, being conveyed immediately to the large chamber which housed the 
collection of African specimens as arranged by Sir Robert and Arthur. What 
ensued can best be gathered from the tales of servants and from things and 
papers later examined. Of the various tales, that of aged Soames, the family 
butler, is most ample and coherent. According to this trustworthy man. Sir 
Arthur Jermyn dismissed everyone from the room before opening the box, 
though the instant sound of hammer and chisel showed that he did not delay the 
operation. Nothing was heard for some time; just how long Soames cannot 
exactly estimate, but it was certainly less than a quarter of an hour later that the 
horrible scream, undoubtedly in Jermyn's voice, was heard. Immediately 
afterward Jermyn emerged from the room, rushing frantically toward the front of 
the house as if pursued by some hideous enemy. The expression on his face, a 
face ghastly enough in repose, was beyond description. When near the front door 
he seemed to think of something, and turned back in his flight, finally 
disappearing down the stairs to the cellar. The servants were utterly 
dumbfounded, and watched at the head of the stairs, but their master did not 
return. A smell of oil was all that came up from the regions below. After dark a 
rattling was heard at the door leading from the cellar into the courtyard; and a 
stable-boy saw Arthur Jermyn, glistening from head to foot with oil and redolent 
of that fluid, steal furtively out and vanish on the black moor surrounding the 
house. Then, in an exaltation of supreme horror, everyone saw the end. A spark 
appeared on the moor, a flame arose, and a pillar of human fire reached to the 
heavens. The house of Jermyn no longer existed. 

The reason why Arthur Jermyn's charred fragments were not collected and 
buried lies in what was found afterward, principally the thing in the box. The 
stuffed goddess was a nauseous sight, withered and eaten away, but it was 
clearly a mummified white ape of some unknown species, less hairy than any 
recorded variety, and infinitely nearer mankind-quite shockingly so. Detailed 
description would be rather unpleasant, but two salient particulars must be told, 
for they fit in revoltingly with certain notes of Sir Wade Jermyn's African 



157 



expeditions and with the Congolese legends of the white god and the ape- 
princess. The two particulars in question are these: the arms on the golden locket 
about the creature's neck were the Jermyn arms, and the jocose suggestion of M. 
Verhaeren about certain resemblance as connected with the shrivelled face 
applied with vivid, ghastly, and unnatural horror to none other than the 
sensitive Arthur Jermyn, great-great-great-grandson of Sir Wade Jermyn and an 
unknown wife. Members of the Royal Anthropological Institute burned the thing 
and threw the locket into a well, and some of them do not admit that Arthur 
Jermyn ever existed. 



158 



From Beyond 



Written 1920 

Published June 1934 in The Fantasy Fan, 1, No. 10, 147-51, 160. 

Horrible beyond conception was the change which had taken place in my best 
friend, Crawford Tillinghast. I had not seen him since that day, two months and 
a half before, when he told me toward what goal his physical and metaphysical 
researches were leading; when he had answered my awed and almost frightened 
remonstrances by driving me from his laboratory and his house in a burst of 
fanatical rage. I had known that he now remained mostly shut in the attic 
laboratory with that accursed electrical machine, eating little and excluding even 
the servants, but I had not thought that a brief period of ten weeks could so alter 
and disfigure any human creature. It is not pleasant to see a stout man suddenly 
grown thin, and it is even worse when the baggy skin becomes yellowed or 
grayed, the eyes sunken, circled, and uncannily glowing, the forehead veined 
and corrugated, and the hands tremulous and twitching. And if added to this 
there be a repellent unkemptness, a wild disorder of dress, a bushiness of dark 
hair white at the roots, and an unchecked growth of white beard on a face once 
clean-shaven, the cumulative effect is quite shocking. But such was the aspect of 
Crawford TilUinghast on the night his half coherent message brought me to his 
door after my weeks of exile; such was the specter that trembled as it admitted 
me, candle in hand, and glanced furtively over its shoulder as if fearful of unseen 
things in the ancient, lonely house set back from Benevolent Street. 

That Crawford Tilinghast should ever have studied science and philosophy was 
a mistake. These things should be left to the frigid and impersonal investigator 
for they offer two equally tragic alternatives to the man of feeling and action; 
despair, if he fail in his quest, and terrors unutterable and unimaginable if he 
succeed. Tillinghast had once been the prey of failure, solitary and melancholy; 
but now I knew, with nauseating fears of my own, that he was the prey of 
success. I had indeed warned him ten weeks before, when he burst forth with his 
tale of what he felt himself about to discover. He had been flushed and excited 
then, talking in a high and unnatural, though always pedantic, voice. 

"What do we know," he had said, "of the world and the universe about us? Our 
means of receiving impressions are absurdly few, and our notions of 
surrounding objects infinitely narrow. We see things only as we are constructed 
to see them, and can gain no idea of their absolute nature. With five feeble senses 
we pretend to comprehend the boundlessly complex cosmos, yet other beings 
with wider, stronger, or different range of senses might not only see very 



159 



differently the things we see, but might see and study whole worlds of matter, 
energy, and life which lie close at hand yet can never be detected with the senses 
we have. I have always believed that such strange, inaccessible worlds exist at 
our very elbows, and now I believe I have found a way to break dawn the 
barriers. I am not joking. Within twenty-four hours that machine near the table 
will generate waves acting on unrecognized sense organs that exist in us as 
atrophied or rudimentary vestiges. Those waves will open up to us many vistas 
unknown to man and several unknown to anything we consider organic life. We 
shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up 
their ears after midnight. We shall see these things, and other things which no 
breathing creature has yet seen. We shall overleap time, space, and dimensions, 
and without bodily motion peer to the bottom of creation." 

When Tillinghast said these things I remonstrated, for I knew him well enough to 
be frightened rather than amused; but he was a fanatic, and drove me from the 
house. Now he was no less a fanatic, but his desire to speak had conquered his 
resentment, and he had written me imperatively in a hand I could scarcely 
recognize. As I entered the abode of the friend so suddenly metamorphosed to a 
shivering gargoyle, I became infected with the terror which seemed stalking in 
all the shadows. The words and beliefs expressed ten weeks before seemed 
bodied forth in the darkness beyond the small circle of candle light, and I 
sickened at the hollow, altered voice of my host. I wished the servants were 
about, and did not like it when he said they had all left three days previously. It 
seemed strange that old Gregory, at least, should desert his master without 
telling as tried a friend as I. It was he who had given me all the information I had 
of Tillinghast after I was repulsed in rage. 

Yet I soon subordinated all my fears to my growing curiosity and fascination. 
Just what Crawford Tillinghast now wished of me I could only guess, but that he 
had some stupendous secret or discovery to impart, I could not doubt. Before I 
had protested at his unnatural pryings into the unthinkable; now that he had 
evidently succeeded to some degree I almost shared his spirit, terrible though the 
cost of victory appeared. Up through the dark emptiness of the house I followed 
the bobbing candle in the hand of this shaking parody on man. The electricity 
seemed to be turned off, and when I asked my guide he said it was for a definite 
reason. 

"It would he too much... I would not dare," he continued to mutter. I especially 
noted his new habit of muttering, for it was not like him to talk to himself. We 
entered the laboratory in the attic, and I observed that detestable electrical 
machine, glowing with a sickly, sinister violet luminosity. It was connected with 
a powerful chemical battery, but seemed to be receiving no current; for I recalled 
that in its experimental stage it had sputtered and purred when in action. In 



160 



reply to my question Tillinghast mumbled that this permanent glow was not 
electrical in any sense that I could understand. 

He now seated me near the machine, so that it was on my right, and turned a 
switch somewhere below the crowning cluster of glass bulbs. The usual 
sputtering began, turned to a whine, and terminated in a drone so soft as to 
suggest a return to silence. Meanwhile the luminosity increased, waned again, 
then assumed a pale, outre colour or blend of colours which I could neither place 
nor describe. Tillinghast had been watching me, and noted my puzzled 
expression. 

"Do you know what that is?" he whispered, "That is ultra-violet." He chuckled 
oddly at my surprise. "You thought ultra-violet was invisible, and so it is - but 
you can see that and many other invisible things now. 

"Listen to me! The waves from that thing are waking a thousand sleeping senses 
in us; senses which we inherit from aeons of evolution from the state of detached 
electrons to the state of organic humanity. I have seen the truth, and I intend to 
show it to you. Do you wonder how it will seem? I will tell you." Here 
Trninghast seated himself directly opposite me, blowing out his candle and 
staring hideously into my eyes. "Your existing sense-organs - ears first, I think - 
will pick up many of the impressions, for they are closely connected with the 
dormant organs. Then there will be others. You have heard of the pineal gland? I 
laugh at the shallow endocrinologist, fellow-dupe and fellow-parvenu of the 
Freudian. That gland is the great sense organ of organs - I have found out. It is 
like sight in the end, and transmits visual pictures to the brain. If you are normal, 
that is the way you ought to get most of it. . . I mean get most of the evidence 
from beyond." 

I looked about the immense attic room with the sloping south wall, dimly lit by 
rays which the every day eye cannot see. The far corners were all shadows and 
the whole place took on a hazy unreality which obscured its nature and invited 
the imagination to symbolism and phantasm. During the interval that Tillinghast 
was long silent I fancied myself in some vast incredible temple of long-dead 
gods; some vague edifice of innumerable black stone columns reaching up from 
a floor of damp slabs to a cloudy height beyond the range of my vision. The 
picture was very vivid for a while, but gradually gave way to a more horrible 
conception; that of utter, absolute solitude in infinite, sightless, soundless space. 
There seemed to a void, and nothing more, and I felt a childish fear which 
prompted me to draw from my hip pocket the revolver I carried after dark since 
the night I was held up in East Providence. Then from the farthermost regions of 
remoteness, the sound softly glided into existence. It was infinitely faint, subtly 
vibrant, and unmistakably musical, but held a quality of surpassing wildness 



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which made its impact feel Hke a dehcate torture of my whole body. I felt 
sensations like those one feels when accidentally scratching ground glass. 
Simultaneously there developed something like a cold draught, which 
apparently swept past me from the direction of the distant sound. As I waited 
breathlessly I perceived that both sound and wind were increasing; the effect 
being to give me an odd notion of myself as tied to a pair of rails in the path of a 
gigantic approaching locomotive. I began to speak to Tillinghast, and as I did so 
all the unusual impressions abruptly vanished. I saw only the man, the glowing 
machines, and the dim apartment. Tillinghast was grinning repulsively at the 
revolver which I had almost unconsciously drawn, but from his expression I was 
sure he had seen and heard as much as I, if not a great deal more. I whispered 
what I had experienced and he bade me to remain as quiet and receptive as 
possible. 

"Don't move," he cautioned, "for in these rays we are able to be seen as well as to 
see. I told you the servants left, but I didn't tell you how. It was that thick-witted 
house-keeper - she turned on the lights downstairs after I had warned her not to, 
and the wires picked up sympathetic vibrations. It must have been frightful - I 
could hear the screams up here in spite of all I was seeing and hearing from 
another direction, and later it was rather awful to find those empty heaps of 
clothes around the house. Mrs. Updike's clothes were close to the front hall 
switch - that's how I know she did it. It got them all. But so long as we don't 
move we're fairly safe. Remember we're dealing with a hideous world in which 
we are practically helpless... Keep still!" 

The combined shock of the revelation and of the abrupt command gave me a 
kind of paralysis, and in my terror my mind again opened to the impressions 
coming from what Tillinghast called "beyond." I was now in a vortex of sound 
and motion, with confused pictures before my eyes. I saw the blurred outlines of 
the room, but from some point in space there seemed to be pouring a seething 
column of unrecognizable shapes or clouds, penetrating the solid roof at a point 
ahead and to the right of me. Then I glimpsed the temple - like effect again, but 
this time the pillars reached up into an aerial ocean of light, which sent down one 
blinding beam along the path of the cloudy column I had seen before. After that 
the scene was almost wholly kaleidoscopic, and in the jumble of sights, sounds, 
and unidentified sense-impressions I felt that I was about to dissolve or in some 
way lose the solid form. One definite flash I shall always remember. I seemed for 
an instant to behold a patch of strange night sky filled with shining, revolving 
spheres, and as it receded I saw that the glowing suns formed a constellation or 
galaxy of settled shape; this shape being the distorted face of Crawford 
Tillinghast. At another time I felt the huge animate things brushing past me and 
occasionally walking or drifting through my supposedly solid body, and thought 
I saw Tillinghast look at them as though his better trained senses could catch 



162 



them visually. I recalled what he had said of the pineal gland, and wondered 
what he saw with this preternatural eye. 

Suddenly I myself became possessed of a kind of augmented sight. Over and 
above the luminous and shadowy chaos arose a picture which, though vague, 
held the elements of consistency and permanence. It was indeed somewhat 
familiar, for the unusual part was superimposed upon the usual terrestrial scene 
much as a cinema view may be thrown upon the painted curtain of a theater. I 
saw the attic laboratory, the electrical machine, and the unsightly form of 
Tillinghast opposite me; but of all the space unoccupied by familiar objects not 
one particle was vacant. Indescribable shapes both alive and otherwise were 
mixed in disgusting disarray, and close to every known thing were whole worlds 
of alien, unknown entities. It likewise seemed that all the known things entered 
into the composition of other unknown things and vice versa. Foremost among 
the living objects were inky, jellyfish monstrosities which flabbily quivered in 
harmony with the vibrations from the machine. They were present in loathsome 
profusion, and I saw to my horror that they overlapped; that they were semi- 
fluid and capable of passing through one another and through what we know as 
solids. These things were never still, but seemed ever floating about with some 
malignant purpose. Sometimes they appeared to devour one another, the 
attacker launching itself at its victim and instantaneously obliterating the latter 
from sight. Shudderingly I felt that I knew what had obliterated the unfortunate 
servants, and could not exclude the thing from my mind as I strove to observe 
other properties of the newly visible world that lies unseen around us. But 
Tillinghast had been watching me and was speaking. 

"You see them? You see them? You see the things that float and flop about you 
and through you every moment of your life? You see the creatures that form 
what men call the pure air and the blue sky? Have I not succeeded in breaking 
down the barrier; have I not shown you worlds that no other living men have 
seen?" I heard his scream through the horrible chaos, and looked at the wild face 
thrust so offensively close to mine. His eyes were pits of flame, and they glared 
at me with what I now saw was overwhelming hatred. The machine droned 
detestably. 

"You think those floundering things wiped out the servants? Fool, they are 
harmless! But the servants are gone, aren't they? You tried to stop me; you 
discouraged me when I needed every drop of encouragement I could get; you 
were afraid of the cosmic truth, you damned coward, but now I've got you! What 
swept up the servants? What made them scream so loud?... Don't know, eh! 
You'll know soon enough. Look at me - listen to what I say - do you suppose 
there are really any such things as time and magnitude? Do you fancy there are 
such things as form or matter? I tell you, I have struck depths that your little 



163 



brain can't picture. I have seen beyond the bounds of infinity and drawn down 
daemons from the stars... I have harnessed the shadows that stride from world 
to world to sow death and madness... Space belongs to me, do you hear? Things 
are hunting me now - the things that devour and dissolve - but I know how to 
elude them. It is you they will get, as they got the servants... Stirring, dear sir? I 
told you it was dangerous to move, I have saved you so far by telling you to keep 
still - saved you to see more sights and to listen to me. If you had moved, they 
would have been at you long ago. Don't worry, they won't hurt you. They didn't 
hurt the servants - it was the seeing that made the poor devils scream so. My pets 
are not pretty, for they come out of places where aesthetic standards are - very 
different. Disintegration is quite painless, I assure you — but I want you to see 
them. I almost saw them, but I knew how to stop. You are curious? I always 
knew you were no scientist. Trembling, eh. Trembling with anxiety to see the 
ultimate things I have discovered. Why don't you move, then? Tired? Well, don't 
worry, my friend, for they are coming... Look, look, curse you, look... it's just 
over your left shoulder. . ." 

What remains to be told is very brief, and may be familiar to you from the 
newspaper accounts. The police heard a shot in the old Tillinghast house and 
found us there - Tillinghast dead and me unconscious. They arrested me because 
the revolver was in my hand, but released me in three hours, after they found it 
was apoplexy which had finished Tillinghast and saw that my shot had been 
directed at the noxious machine which now lay hopelessly shattered on the 
laboratory floor. I did not tell very much of what I had seen, for I feared the 
coroner would be skeptical; but from the evasive outline I did give, the doctor 
told me that I had undoubtedly been hypnotized by the vindictive and homicidal 
madman. 

I wish I could believe that doctor. It would help my shaky nerves if I could 
dismiss what I now have to think of the air and the sky about and above me. I 
never feel alone or comfortable, and a hideous sense of pursuit sometimes comes 
chillingly on me when I am weary. What prevents me from believing the doctor 
is one simple fact - that the police never found the bodies of those servants whom 
they say Crawford Tillinghast murdered. 



164 



He 

Written 11 Aug 1925 

Published September 1926 in Weird Tales, Vol. 8, No. 3, P. 373-80. 

I saw him on a sleepless night when I was walking desperately to save my soul 
and my vision. My coming to New York had been a mistake; for whereas I had 
looked for poignant wonder and inspiration in the teeming labyrinths of ancient 
streets that twist endlessly from forgotten courts and squares and waterfronts to 
courts and squares and waterfronts equally forgotten, and in the Cyclopean 
modern towers and pinnacles that rise blackly Babylonian under waning moons, 
I had found instead only a sense of horror and oppression which threatened to 
master, paralyze, and annihilate me. 

The disillusion had been gradual. Coming for the first time upon the town, I had 
seen it in the sunset from a bridge, majestic above its waters, its incredible peaks 
and pyramids rising flowerlike and delicate from pools of violet mist to play 
with the flaming clouds and the first stars of evening. Then it had lighted up 
window by window above the shimmering tides where lanterns nodded and 
glided and deep horns bayed weird harmonies, and had itself become a starry 
firmament of dream, redolent of faery music, and one with the marvels of 
Carcassonne and Samarcand and El Dorado and all glorious and half- fabulous 
cities. Shortly afterward I was taken through those antique ways so dear to my 
fancy-narrow, curving alleys and passages where rows of red Georgian brick 
blinked with small-paned dormers above pillared doorways that had looked on 
gilded sedans and paneled coaches - and in the first flush of realization of these 
long-wished things I thought I had indeed achieved such treasures as would 
make me in time a poet. 

But success and happiness were not to be. Garish daylight showed only squalor 
and alienage and the noxious elephantiasis of climbing, spreading stone where 
the moon had hinted of loveliness and elder magic; and the throngs of people 
that seethed through the flume-like streets were squat, swarthy strangers with 
hardened faces and narrow eyes, shrewd strangers without dreams and without 
kinship to the scenes about them, who could never mean aught to a blue-eyed 
man of the old folk, with the love of fair green lanes and white New England 
village steeples in his heart. 

So instead of the poems I had hoped for, there came only a shuddering blackness 
and ineffable loneliness; and I saw at last a fearful truth which no one had ever 
dared to breathe before - the unwhisperable secret of secrets - the fact that this 



165 



city of stone and stridor is not a sentient perpetuation of Old New York as 
London is of Old London and Paris of Old Paris, but that it is in fact quite dead, 
its sprawling body imperfectly embalmed and infested with queer animate 
things which have nothing to do with it as it was in life. Upon making this 
discovery I ceased to sleep comfortably; though something of resigned 
tranquillity came back as I gradually formed the habit of keeping off the streets 
by day and venturing abroad only at night, when darkness calls forth what little 
of the past still hovers wraith-like about, and old white doorways remember the 
stalwart forms that once passed through them. With this mode of relief I even 
wrote a few poems, and still refrained from going home to my people lest I seem 
to crawl back ignobly in defeat. 

Then, on a sleepless night's walk, I met the man. It was in a grotesque hidden 
courtyard of the Greenwich section, for there in my ignorance I had settled, 
having heard of the place as the natural home of poets and artists. The archaic 
lanes and houses and unexpected bits of square and court had indeed delighted 
me, and when I found the poets and artists to be loud-voiced pretenders whose 
quaintness is tinsel and whose lives are a denial of all that pure beauty which is 
poetry and art, I stayed on for love of these venerable things. I fancied them as 
they were in their prime, when Greenwich was a placid village not yet engulfed 
by the town; and in the hours before dawn, when all the revellers had slunk 
away, I used to wander alone among their cryptical windings and brood upon 
the curious arcana which generations must have deposited there. This kept my 
soul alive, and gave me a few of those dreams and visions for which the poet far 
within me cried out. 

The man came upon me at about two one cloudy August morning, as I was 
threading a series of detached courtyards; now accessible only through the 
unlighted hallways of intervening buildings, but once forming parts of a 
continuous network of picturesque alleys. I had heard of them by vague rumor, 
and realized that they could not be upon any map of today; but the fact that they 
were forgotten only endeared them to me, so that I had sought them with twice 
my usual eagerness. Now that I had found them, my eagerness was again 
redoubled; for something in their arrangement dimly hinted that they might be 
only a few of many such, with dark, dumb counterparts wedged obscurely 
betwixt high blank walls and deserted rear tenements, or lurking lamplessly 
behind archways unbetrayed by hordes of the foreign-speaking or guarded by 
furtive and uncommunicative artists whose practises do not invite publicity or 
the light of day. 

He spoke to me without invitation, noting my mood and glances as I studied 
certain knockered doorways above iron-railed steps, the pallid glow of traceried 
transoms feebly lighting my face. His own face was in shadow, and he wore a 



166 



wide-brimmed hat which somehow blended perfectly with the out-of-date cloak 
he affected; but I was subtly disquieted even before he addressed me. His form 
was very slight; thin almost to cadaverousness; and his voice proved 
phenomenally soft and hollow, though not particularly deep. He had, he said, 
noticed me several times at my wanderings; and inferred that I resembled him in 
loving the vestiges of former years. Would I not like the guidance of one long 
practised in these explorations, and possessed of local information profoundly 
deeper than any which an obvious newcomer could possibly have gained? 

As he spoke, I caught a glimpse of his face in the yellow beam from a solitary 
attic window. It was a noble, even a handsome elderly countenance; and bore the 
marks of a lineage and refinement unusual for the age and place. Yet some 
quality about it disturbed me almost as much as its features pleased me - perhaps 
it was too white, or too expressionless, or too much out of keeping with the 
locality, to make me feel easy or comfortable. Nevertheless I followed him; for in 
those dreary days my quest for antique beauty and mystery was all that I had to 
keep my soul alive, and I reckoned it a rare favor of Fate to fall in with one 
whose kindred seekings seemed to have penetrated so much farther than mine. 

Something in the night constrained the cloaked man to silence and for a long 
hour he led me forward without needless words; making only the briefest of 
comments concerning ancient names and dates and changes, and directing my 
progress very largely by gestures as we squeezed through interstices, tiptoed 
through corridors clambered over brick walls, and once crawled on hands and 
knees through a low, arched passage of stone whose immense length and 
tortuous twistings effaced at last every hint of geographical location I had 
managed to preserve. The things we saw were very old and marvelous, or at 
least they seemed so in the few straggling rays of light by which I viewed them, 
and I shall never forget the tottering Ionic columns and fluted pilasters and urn- 
headed iron fenceposts and flaring-linteled windows and decorative fanlights 
that appeared to grow quainter and stranger the deeper we advanced into this 
inexhaustible maze of unknown antiquity. 

We met no person, and as time passed the lighted windows became fewer and 
fewer. The streetlights we first encountered had been of oil, and of the ancient 
lozenge pattern. Later I noticed some with candles; and at last, after traversing a 
horrible unlighted court where my guide had to lead with his gloved hand 
through total blackness to a narrow wooded gate in a high wall, we came upon a 
fragment of alley lit only by lanterns in front of every seventh house - 
unbelievably Colonial tin lanterns with conical tops and holes punched in the 
sides. This alley led steeply uphill - more steeply than I thought possible in this 
part of New York - and the upper end was blocked squarely by the ivy-clad wall 
of a private estate, beyond which I could see a pale cupola, and the tops of trees 



167 



waving against a vague lightness in the sky. In this wall was a small, low-arched 
gate of nail-studded black oak, which the man proceeded to unlock with a 
ponderous key. Leading me within, he steered a course in utter blackness over 
what seemed to be a gravel path, and finally up a flight of stone steps to the door 
of the house, which he unlocked and opened for me. 

We entered, and as we did so I grew faint from a reek of infinite mustiness which 
welled out to meet us, and which must have been the fruit of unwholesome 
centuries of decay. My host appeared not to notice this, and in courtesy I kept 
silent as he piloted me up a curving stairway, across a hall, and into a room 
whose door I heard him lock behind us. Then I saw him pull the curtains of the 
three small-paned windows that barely showed themselves against the 
lightening sky; after which he crossed to the mantel, struck flint and steel, lighted 
two candles of a candelabrum of twelve sconces, and made a gesture enjoining 
soft-toned speech. 

In this feeble radiance I saw that we were in a spacious, well-furnished and 
paneled library dating from the first quarter of the Eighteenth Century, with 
splendid doorway pediments, a delightful Doric cornice, and a magnificently 
carved overmantel with scroU-and-urn top. Above the crowded bookshelves at 
intervals along the walls were well-wrought family portraits; all tarnished to an 
enigmatical dimness, and bearing an unmistakable likeness to the man who now 
motioned me to a chair beside the graceful Chippendale table. Before seating 
himself across the table from me, my host paused for a moment as if in 
embarrassment; then, tardily removing his gloves, wide-brimmed hat, and cloak, 
stood theatrically revealed in full mid-Georgian costume from queued hair and 
neck ruffles to knee-breeches, silk hose, and the buckled shoes I had not 
previously noticed. Now slowly sinking into a lyre-back chair, he commenced to 
eye me intently. 

Without his hat he took on an aspect of extreme age which was scarcely visible 
before, and I wondered if this unperceived mark of singular longevity were not 
one of the sources of my disquiet. When he spoke at length, his soft, hollow, and 
carefully muffled voice not infrequently quavered; and now and then I had great 
difficulty in following him as I listened with a thrill of amazement and half- 
disavowed alarm which grew each instant. 

"You behold. Sir," my host began, "a man of very eccentrical habits for whose 
costume no apology need be offered to one with your wit and inclinations. 
Reflecting upon better times, I have not scrupled to ascertain their ways, and 
adopt their dress and manners; an indulgence which offends none if practised 
without ostentation. It hath been my good fortune to retain the rural seat of my 
ancestors, swallowed though it was by two towns, first Greenwich, which built 



168 



up hither after 1800, then New York, which joined on near 1830. There were 
many reasons for the close keeping of this place in my family, and I have not 
been remiss in discharging such obligations. The squire who succeeded to it in 
1768 studied sartain arts and made sartain discoveries, all connected with 
influences residing in this particular plot of ground, and eminently desarving of 
the strongest guarding. Some curious effects of these arts and discoveries I now 
purpose to show you, under the strictest secrecy; and I believe I may rely on my 
judgement of men enough to have no distrust of either your interest or your 
fidelity." 

He paused, but I could only nod my head. I have said that I was alarmed, yet to 
my soul nothing was more deadly than the material daylight world of New York, 
and whether this man were a harmless eccentric or a wielder of dangerous arts, I 
had no choice save to follow him and slake my sense of wonder on whatever he 
might have to offer. So I listened. 

"To - my ancestor," he softly continued, "there appeared to reside some very 
remarkable qualities in the will of mankind; qualities having a little-suspected 
dominance not only over the acts of one's self and of others, but over every 
variety of force and substance in Nature, and over many elements and 
dimensions deemed more universal than Nature herself. May I say that he 
flouted the sanctity of things as great as space and time and that he put to 
strange uses the rites of sartain half-breed red Indians once encamped upon this 
hill? These Indians showed choler when the place was built, and were plaguey 
pestilent in asking to visit the grounds at the full of the moon. For years they 
stole over the wall each month when they could, and by stealth performed 
sartain acts. Then, in '68, the new squire catched them at their doings, and stood 
still at what he saw. Thereafter he bargained with them and exchanged the free 
access of his grounds for the exact inwardness of what they did, larning that their 
grandfathers got part of their custom from red ancestors and part from an old 
Dutchman in the time of the States-General. Arid pox on him, I'm afeared the 
squire must have sarved them monstrous bad rum - whether or not by intent - 
for a week after he larnt the secret he was the only man living that knew it. You, 
Sir, are the first outsider to be told there is a secret, and split me if I'd have risked 
tampering that much with - the powers - had ye not been so hot after bygone 
things." 

I shuddered as the man grew colloquial - and with the familiar speech of another 
day. He went on. 

"But you must know. Sir, that what - the squire - got from those mongrel savages 
was but a small part of the larning he came to have. He had not been at Oxford 
for nothing, nor talked to no account with an ancient chymist and astrologer in 



169 



Paris. He was, in fine, made sensible that all the world is but the smoke of our 
intellects; past the bidding of the vulgar, but by the wise to be puffed out and 
drawn in like any cloud of prime Virginia tobacco. What we want, we may make 
about us; and what we don't want, we may sweep away. I won't say that all this 
is wholly true in body, but 'tis sufficient true to furnish a very pretty spectacle 
now and then. You, I conceive, would be tickled hy a better sight of sartain other 
years than your fancy affords you; so be pleased to hold back any fright at what I 
design to show. Come to the window and be quiet." 

My host now took my hand to draw me to one of the two windows on the long 
side of the malodorous room, and at the first touch of his ungloved fingers I 
turned cold. His flesh, though dry and firm, was of the quality of ice; and I 
almost shrank away from his pulling. But again I thought of the emptiness and 
horror of reality, and boldly prepared to follow whithersoever I might be led. 
Once at the window, the man drew apart the yellow silk curtains and directed 
my stare into the blackness outside. For a moment I saw nothing save a myriad 
of tiny dancing lights, far, far before me. Then, as if in response to an insidious 
motion of my host's hand, a flash of heat-lightning played over the scene, and I 
looked out upon a sea of luxuriant foliage - foliage unpolluted, and not the sea of 
roofs to be expected by any normal mind. On my right the Hudson glittered 
wickedly, and in the distance ahead I saw the unhealthy shimmer of a vast salt 
marsh constellated with nervous fireflies. The flash died, and an evil smile 
illumined the waxy face of the aged necromancer. 

"That was before my time - before the new squire's time. Pray let us try again." 

I was faint, even fainter than the hateful modernity of that accursed city had 
made me. 

"Good God!" I whispered, "can you do that for any time?" And as he nodded, 
and bared the black stumps of what had once been yellow fangs, I clutched at the 
curtains to prevent myself from falling. But he steadied me with that terrible, ice- 
cold claw, and once more made his insidious gesture. 

Again the lightning flashed - but this time upon a scene not wholly strange. It 
was Greenwich, the Greenwich that used to be, with here and there a roof or row 
of houses as we see it now, yet with lovely green lanes and fields and bits of 
grassy common. The marsh still glittered beyond, but in the farther distance I 
saw the steeples of what was then all of New York; Trinity and St. Paul's and the 
Brick Church dominating their sisters, and a faint haze of wood smoke hovering 
over the whole. I breathed hard, hut not so much from the sight itself as from the 
possibilities my imagination terrifiedly conjured up. 



170 



"Can you - dare you - go far?" I spoke with awe and I think he shared it for a 
second, but the evil grin returned. 

"Far? What I have seen would blast ye to a mad statue of stone! Back, back - 
forward, forward - look ye puling lackwit!" 

And as he snarled the phrase under his breath he gestured anew bringing to the 
sky a flash more blinding than either which had come before. For full three 
seconds I could glimpse that pandemoniac sight, and in those seconds I saw a 
vista which will ever afterward torment me in dreams. I saw the heavens 
verminous with strange flying things, and beneath them a hellish black city of 
giant stone terraces with impious pyramids flung savagely to the moon, and 
devil-lights burning from unnumbered windows. And swarming loathsomely on 
aerial galleries I saw the yellow, squint-eyed people of that city, robed horribly in 
orange and red, and dancing insanely to the pounding of fevered kettle-drums, 
the clatter of obscene crotala, and the maniacal moaning of muted horns whose 
ceaseless dirges rose and fell undulantly like the wave of an unhallowed ocean of 
bitumen. 

I saw this vista, I say, and heard as with the mind's ear the blasphemous 
domdaniel of cacophony which companioned it. It was the shrieking fulfilment 
of all the horror which that corpse-city had ever stirred in my soul, and 
forgetting every injunction to silence I screamed and screamed and screamed as 
my nerves gave way and the walls quivered about me. 

Then, as the flash subsided, I saw that my host was trembling too; a look of 
shocking fear half-blotting from his face the serpent distortion of rage which my 
screams had excited. He tottered, clutched at the curtains as I had done before, 
and wriggled his head wildly, like a hunted animal. God knows he had cause, for 
as the echoes of my screaming died away there came another sound so hellishly 
suggestive that only numbed emotion kept me sane and conscious. It was the 
steady, stealthy creaking of the stairs beyond the locked door, as with the ascent 
of a barefoot or skin-shod horde; and at last the cautious, purposeful rattling of 
the brass latch that glowed in the feeble candlelight. The old man clawed and 
spat at me through the moldy air, and barked things in his throat as he swayed 
with the yellow curtain he clutched. 

"The full moon - damn ye - ye... ye yelping dog - ye called 'em, and they've 
come for me! Moccasined feet - dead men - Gad sink ye, ye red devils, but I 
poisoned no rum o' yours - han't I kept your pox-rotted magic safe - ye swilled 
yourselves sick, curse ye, and yet must needs blame the squire - let go, you! 
Unhand that latch - I've naught for ye here - " 



171 



At this point three slow and very dehberate raps shook the panels of the door, 
and a white foam gathered at the mouth of the frantic magician. His fright, 
turning to steely despair, left room for a resurgence of his rage against me; and 
he staggered a step toward the table on whose edge I was steadying myself. The 
curtains, still clutched in his right hand as his left clawed out at me, grew taut 
and finally crashed down from their lofty fastenings; admitting to the room a 
flood of that full moonlight which the brightening of the sky had presaged. In 
those greenish beams the candles paled, and a new semblance of decay spread 
over the musk-reeking room with its wormy paneling, sagging floor, battered 
mantel, rickety furniture, and ragged draperies. It spread over the old man, too, 
whether from the same source or because of his fear and vehemence, and I saw 
him shrivel and blacken as he lurched near and strove to rend me with vulturine 
talons. Only his eyes stayed whole, and they glared with a propulsive, dilated 
incandescence which grew as the face around them charred and dwindled. 

The rapping was now repeated with greater insistence, and this time bore a hint 
of metal. The black thing facing me had become only a head with eyes, 
impotently trying to wriggle across the sinking floor in my direction, and 
occasionally emitting feeble little spits of immortal malice. Now swift and 
splintering blows assailed the sickly panels, and I saw the gleam of a tomahawk 
as it cleft the rending wood. I did not move, for I could not; but watched dazedly 
as the door fell in pieces to admit a colossal, shapeless influx of inky substance 
starred with shining, malevolent eyes. It poured thickly, like a flood of oil 
bursting a rotten bulkhead, overturned a chair as it spread, and finally flowed 
under the table and across the room to where the blackened head with the eyes 
still glared at me. Around that head it closed, totally swallowing it up, and in 
another moment it had begun to recede; bearing away its invisible burden 
without touching me, and flowing again out that black doorway and down the 
unseen stairs, which creaked as before, though in reverse order. 

Then the floor gave way at last, and I slid gaspingly down into the nighted 
chamber below, choking with cobwebs and half-swooning with terror. The green 
moon, shining through broken windows, showed me the hall door half open; 
and as I rose from the plaster-strewn floor and twisted myself free from the 
sagged ceiling, I saw sweep past it an awful torrent of blackness, with scores of 
baleful eyes glowing in it. It was seeking the door to the cellar, and when it 
found it, vanished therein. I now felt the floor of this lower room giving as that of 
the upper chamber had done, and once a crashing above had been followed by 
the fall past the west window of some thing which must have been the cupola. 
Now liberated for the instant from the wreckage, I rushed through the hall to the 
front door and finding myself unable to open it, seized a chair and broke a 
window, climbing frenziedly out upon the unkempt lawn where moon light 
danced over yard-high grass and weeds. The wall was high and all the gates 



172 



were locked but moving a pile of boxes in a corner I managed to gain the top and 
cling to the great stone urn set there. 

About me in my exhaustion I could see only strange walls and windows and old 
gambrel roofs. The steep street of my approach was nowhere visible, and the 
little I did see succumbed rapidly to a mist that rolled in from the river despite 
the glaring moonlight. Suddenly the urn to which I clung began to tremble, as if 
sharing my own lethal dizziness; and in another instant my body was plunging 
downward to I knew not what fate. 

The man who found me said that I must have crawled a long way despite my 
broken bones, for a trail of blood stretched off as far as he dared look. The 
gathering rain soon effaced this link with the scene of my ordeal, and reports 
could state no more than that I had appeared from a place unknown, at the 
entrance to a little black court off Perry Street. 

I never sought to return to those tenebrous labyrinths, nor would I direct any 
sane man thither if I could. Of who or what that ancient creature was, I have no 
idea; but I repeat that the city is dead and full of unsuspected horrors. Whither 
he has gone, I do not know; but I have gone home to the pure New England 
lanes up which fragrant sea-winds sweep at evening. 



173 



Herbert West: Reanitnator 

Written Sep 1921-mid 1922 

Published in six parts, February-July 1922 in Home Brew, Vol. 1, Nos. 1-6. 

I. From The Dark 

Published Februrary 1922 in Home Brew Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 19-25. 

Of Herbert West, who was my friend in college and in after life, I can speak only 
with extreme terror. This terror is not due altogether to the sinister manner of his 
recent disappearance, but was engendered by the whole nature of his life-work, 
and first gained its acute form more than seventeen years ago, when we were in 
the third year of our course at the Miskatonic University Medical School in 
Arkham. While he was with me, the wonder and diabolism of his experiments 
fascinated me utterly, and I was his closest companion. Now that he is gone and 
the spell is broken, the actual fear is greater. Memories and possibilities are ever 
more hideous than realities. 

The first horrible incident of our acquaintance was the greatest shock I ever 
experienced, and it is only with reluctance that I repeat it. As I have said, it 
happened when we were in the medical school where West had already made 
himself notorious through his wild theories on the nature of death and the 
possibility of overcoming it artificially. His views, which were widely ridiculed 
by the faculty and by his fellow-students, hinged on the essentially mechanistic 
nature of life; and concerned means for operating the organic machinery of 
mankind by calculated chemical action after the failure of natural processes. In 
his experiments with various animating solutions, he had killed and treated 
immense numbers of rabbits, guinea-pigs, cats, dogs, and monkeys, till he had 
become the prime nuisance of the college. Several times he had actually obtained 
signs of life in animals supposedly dead; in many cases violent signs but he soon 
saw that the perfection of his process, if indeed possible, would necessarily 
involve a lifetime of research. It likewise became clear that, since the same 
solution never worked alike on different organic species, he would require 
human subjects for further and more specialised progress. It was here that he 
first came into conflict with the college authorities, and was debarred from future 
experiments by no less a dignitary than the dean of the medical school himself — 
the learned and benevolent Dr. Allan Halsey, whose work in behalf of the 
stricken is recalled by every old resident of Arkham. 



174 



I had always been exceptionally tolerant of West's pursuits, and we frequently 
discussed his theories, whose ramifications and corollaries were almost infinite. 
Holding with Haeckel that all life is a chemical and physical process, and that the 
so-called "soul" is a myth, my friend believed that artificial reanimation of the 
dead can depend only on the condition of the tissues; and that unless actual 
decomposition has set in, a corpse fully equipped with organs may with suitable 
measures be set going again in the peculiar fashion known as life. That the 
psychic or intellectual life might be impaired by the slight deterioration of 
sensitive brain-cells which even a short period of death would be apt to cause. 
West fully realised. It had at first been his hope to find a reagent which would 
restore vitality before the actual advent of death, and only repeated failures on 
animals had shewn him that the natural and artificial life-motions were 
incompatible. He then sought extreme freshness in his specimens, injecting his 
solutions into the blood immediately after the extinction of life. It was this 
circumstance which made the professors so carelessly sceptical, for they felt that 
true death had not occurred in any case. They did not stop to view the matter 
closely and reasoningly. 

It was not long after the faculty had interdicted his work that West confided to 
me his resolution to get fresh human bodies in some manner, and continue in 
secret the experiments he could no longer perform openly. To hear him 
discussing ways and means was rather ghastly, for at the college we had never 
procured anatomical specimens ourselves. Whenever the morgue proved 
inadequate, two local negroes attended to this matter, and they were seldom 
questioned. West was then a small, slender, spectacled youth with delicate 
features, yellow hair, pale blue eyes, and a soft voice, and it was uncanny to hear 
him dwelling on the relative merits of Christchurch Cemetery and the potter's 
field. We finally decided on the potter's field, because practically every body in 
Christchurch was embalmed; a thing of course ruinous to West's researches. 

I was by this time his active and enthralled assistant, and helped him make all 
his decisions, not only concerning the source of bodies but concerning a suitable 
place for our loathsome work. It was I who thought of the deserted Chapman 
farmhouse beyond Meadow Hill, where we fitted up on the ground floor an 
operating room and a laboratory, each with dark curtains to conceal our 
midnight doings. The place was far from any road, and in sight of no other 
house, yet precautions were none the less necessary; since rumours of strange 
lights, started by chance nocturnal roamers, would soon bring disaster on our 
enterprise. It was agreed to call the whole thing a chemical laboratory if 
discovery should occur. Gradually we equipped our sinister haunt of science 
with materials either purchased in Boston or quietly borrowed from the college 
— materials carefully made unrecognisable save to expert eyes — and provided 
spades and picks for the many burials we should have to make in the cellar. At 



175 



the college we used an incinerator, but the apparatus was too costly for our 
unauthorised laboratory. Bodies were always a nuisance — even the small 
guinea-pig bodies from the slight clandestine experiments in West's room at the 
boarding-house. 

We followed the local death-notices like ghouls, for our specimens demanded 
particular qualities. What we wanted were corpses interred soon after death and 
without artificial preservation; preferably free from malforming disease, and 
certainly with all organs present. Accident victims were our best hope. Not for 
many weeks did we hear of anything suitable; though we talked with morgue 
and hospital authorities, ostensibly in the college's interest, as often as we could 
without exciting suspicion. We found that the college had first choice in every 
case, so that it might be necessary to remain in Arkham during the summer, 
when only the limited summer-school classes were held. In the end, though, luck 
favoured us; for one day we heard of an almost ideal case in the potter's field; a 
brawny young workman drowned only the morning before in Summer's Pond, 
and buried at the town's expense without delay or embalming. That afternoon 
we found the new grave, and determined to begin work soon after midnight. It 
was a repulsive task that we undertook in the black small hours, even though we 
lacked at that time the special horror of graveyards which later experiences 
brought to us. We carried spades and oil dark lanterns, for although electric 
torches were then manufactured, they were not as satisfactory as the tungsten 
contrivances of today. The process of unearthing was slow and sordid — it might 
have been gruesomely poetical if we had been artists instead of scientists — and 
we were glad when our spades struck wood. When the pine box was fully 
uncovered. West scrambled down and removed the lid, dragging out and 
propping up the contents. I reached down and hauled the contents out of the 
grave, and then both toiled hard to restore the spot to its former appearance. The 
affair made us rather nervous, especially the stiff form and vacant face of our 
first trophy, but we managed to remove all traces of our visit. When we had 
patted down the last shovelful of earth, we put the specimen in a canvas sack 
and set out for the old Chapman place beyond Meadow Hill. 

On an improvised dissecting-table in the old farmhouse, by the light of a 
powerful acetylene lamp, the specimen was not very spectral looking. It had 
been a sturdy and apparently unimaginative youth of wholesome plebeian type 
— large-framed, grey-eyed, and brown-haired — a sound animal without 
psychological subtleties, and probably having vital processes of the simplest and 
healthiest sort. Now, with the eyes closed, it looked more asleep than dead; 
though the expert test of my friend soon left no doubt on that score. We had at 
last what West had always longed for — a real dead man of the ideal kind, ready 
for the solution as prepared according to the most careful calculations and 
theories for human use. The tension on our part became very great. We knew 



176 



that there was scarcely a chance for anything hke complete success, and could 
not avoid hideous fears at possible grotesque results of partial animation. 
Especially were we apprehensive concerning the mind and impulses of the 
creature, since in the space following death some of the more delicate cerebral 
cells might well have suffered deterioration. I, myself, still held some curious 
notions about the traditional "soul" of man, and felt an awe at the secrets that 
might be told by one returning from the dead. I wondered what sights this placid 
youth might have seen in inaccessible spheres, and what he could relate if fully 
restored to life. But my wonder was not overwhelming, since for the most part I 
shared the materialism of my friend. He was calmer than I as he forced a large 
quantity of his fluid into a vein of the body's arm, immediately binding the 
incision securely. 

The waiting was gruesome, but West never faltered. Every now and then he 
applied his stethoscope to the specimen, and bore the negative results 
philosophically. After about three-quarters of an hour without the least sign of 
life he disappointedly pronounced the solution inadequate, but determined to 
make the most of his opportunity and try one change in the formula before 
disposing of his ghastly prize. We had that afternoon dug a grave in the cellar, 
and would have to fill it by dawn — for although we had fixed a lock on the 
house, we wished to shun even the remotest risk of a ghoulish discovery. 
Besides, the body would not be even approximately fresh the next night. So 
taking the solitary acetylene lamp into the adjacent laboratory, we left our silent 
guest on the slab in the dark, and bent every energy to the mixing of a new 
solution; the weighing and measuring supervised by West with an almost 
fanatical care. 

The awful event was very sudden, and wholly unexpected. I was pouring 
something from one test-tube to another, and West was busy over the alcohol 
blast-lamp which had to answer for a Bunsen burner in this gasless edifice, when 
from the pitch-black room we had left there burst the most appalling and 
daemoniac succession of cries that either of us had ever heard. Not more 
unutterable could have been the chaos of hellish sound if the pit itself had 
opened to release the agony of the damned, for in one inconceivable cacophony 
was centered all the supernal terror and unnatural despair of animate nature. 
Human it could not have been — it is not in man to make such sounds — and 
without a thought of our late employment or its possible discovery, both West 
and I leaped to the nearest window like stricken animals; overturning tubes, 
lamp, and retorts, and vaulting madly into the starred abyss of the rural night. I 
think we screamed ourselves as we stumbled frantically toward the town, 
though as we reached the outskirts we put on a semblance of restraint — just 
enough to seem like belated revellers staggering home from a debauch. 



177 



We did not separate, but managed to get to West's room, where we whispered 
with the gas up until dawn. By then we had calmed ourselves a little with 
rational theories and plans for investigation, so that we could sleep through the 
day — classes being disregarded. But that evening two items in the paper, 
wholly unrelated, made it again impossible for us to sleep. The old deserted 
Chapman house had inexplicably burned to an amorphous heap of ashes; that 
we could understand because of the upset lamp. Also, an attempt had been made 
to disturb a new grave in the potter's field, as if by futile and spadeless clawing 
at the earth. That we could not understand, for we had patted down the mould 
very carefully. 

And for seventeen years after that West would look frequently over his shoulder, 
and complain of fancied footsteps behind him. Now he has disappeared. 

II. The Plague-Daemon 

Pubhshed March 1922 in Home Brew Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 45-50. 

I shall never forget that hideous summer sixteen years ago, when like a noxious 
afrite from the halls of Eblis typhoid stalked leeringly through Arkham. It is by 
that Satanic scourge that most recall the year, for truly terror brooded with bat- 
wings over the piles of coffins in the tombs of Christchurch Cemetery; yet for me 
there is a greater horror in that time — a horror known to me alone now that 
Herbert West has disappeared. 

West and I were doing post-graduate work in summer classes at the medical 
school of Miskatonic University, and my friend had attained a wide notoriety 
because of his experiments leading toward the revivification of the dead. After 
the scientific slaughter of uncounted small animals the freakish work had 
ostensibly stopped by order of our sceptical dean. Dr. Allan Halsey; though West 
had continued to perform certain secret tests in his dingy boarding-house room, 
and had on one terrible and unforgettable occasion taken a human body from its 
grave in the potter's field to a deserted farmhouse beyond Meadow Hill. 

I was with him on that odious occasion, and saw him inject into the still veins the 
elixir which he thought would to some extent restore life's chemical and physical 
processes. It had ended horribly — in a delirium of fear which we gradually 
came to attribute to our own overwrought nerves — and West had never 
afterward been able to shake off a maddening sensation of being haunted and 
hunted. The body had not been quite fresh enough; it is obvious that to restore 
normal mental attributes a body must be very fresh indeed; and the burning of 
the old house had prevented us from burying the thing. It would have been 
better if we could have known it was underground. 



178 



After that experience West had dropped his researches for some time; but as the 
zeal of the born scientist slowly returned, he again became importunate with the 
college faculty, pleading for the use of the dissecting-room and of fresh human 
specimens for the work he regarded as so overwhelmingly important. His pleas, 
however, were wholly in vain; for the decision of Dr. Halsey was inflexible, and 
the other professors all endorsed the verdict of their leader. In the radical theory 
of reanimation they saw nothing but the immature vagaries of a youthful 
enthusiast whose slight form, yellow hair, spectacled blue eyes, and soft voice 
gave no hint of the supernormal — almost diabolical — power of the cold brain 
within. I can see him now as he was then — and I shiver. He grew sterner of face, 
but never elderly. And now Sefton Asylum has had the mishap and West has 
vanished. 

West clashed disagreeably with Dr. Halsey near the end of our last 
undergraduate term in a wordy dispute that did less credit to him than to the 
kindiy dean in point of courtesy. He felt that he was needlessly and irrationally 
retarded in a supremely great work; a work which he could of course conduct to 
suit himself in later years, but which he wished to begin while still possessed of 
the exceptional facilities of the university. That the tradition-bound elders should 
ignore his singular results on animals, and persist in their denial of the 
possibility of reanimation, was inexpressibly disgusting and almost 
incomprehensible to a youth of West's logical temperament. Only greater 
maturity could help him understand the chronic mental limitations of the 
"professor-doctor" type — the product of generations of pathetic Puritanism; 
kindly, conscientious, and sometimes gentle and amiable, yet always narrow, 
intolerant, custom-ridden, and lacking in perspective. Age has more charity for 
these incomplete yet high-souled characters, whose worst real vice is timidity, 
and who are ultimately punished by general ridicule for their intellectual sins — 
sins like Ptolemaism, Calvinism, anti-Darwinism, anti-Nietzscheism, and every 
sort of Sabbatarianism and sumptuary legislation. West, young despite his 
marvellous scientific acquirements, had scant patience with good Dr. Halsey and 
his erudite colleagues; and nursed an increasing resentment, coupled with a 
desire to prove his theories to these obtuse worthies in some striking and 
dramatic fashion. Like most youths, he indulged in elaborate daydreams of 
revenge, triumph, and final magnanimous forgiveness. 

And then had come the scourge, grinning and lethal, from the nightmare caverns 
of Tartarus. West and I had graduated about the time of its beginning, but had 
remained for additional work at the summer school, so that we were in Arkham 
when it broke with full daemoniac fury upon the town. Though not as yet 
licenced physicians, we now had our degrees, and were pressed frantically into 
public service as the numbers of the stricken grew. The situation was almost past 
management, and deaths ensued too frequently for the local undertakers fully to 



179 



handle. Burials without embalming were made in rapid succession, and even the 
Christchurch Cemetery receiving tomb was crammed with coffins of the 
unembalmed dead. This circumstance was not without effect on West, who 
thought often of the irony of the situation — so many fresh specimens, yet none 
for his persecuted researches! We were frightfully overworked, and the terrific 
mental and nervous strain made my friend brood morbidly. 

But West's gentle enemies were no less harassed with prostrating duties. College 
had all but closed, and every doctor of the medical faculty was helping to fight 
the typhoid plague. Dr. Halsey in particular had distinguished himself in 
sacrificing service, applying his extreme skill with whole-hearted energy to cases 
which many others shunned because of danger or apparent hopelessness. Before 
a month was over the fearless dean had become a popular hero, though he 
seemed unconscious of his fame as he struggled to keep from collapsing with 
physical fatigue and nervous exhaustion. West could not withhold admiration 
for the fortitude of his foe, but because of this was even more determined to 
prove to him the truth of his amazing doctrines. Taking advantage of the 
disorganisation of both college work and municipal health regulations, he 
managed to get a recently deceased body smuggled into the university 
dissecting-room one night, and in my presence injected a new modification of his 
solution. The thing actually opened its eyes, but only stared at the ceiling with a 
look of soul-petrifying horror before collapsing into an inertness from which 
nothing could rouse it. West said it was not fresh enough — the hot summer air 
does not favour corpses. That time we were almost caught before we incinerated 
the thing, and West doubted the advisability of repeating his daring misuse of 
the college laboratory. 

The peak of the epidemic was reached in August. West and I were almost dead, 
and Dr. Halsey did die on the 14th. The students all attended the hasty funeral 
on the 15th, and bought an impressive wreath, though the latter was quite 
overshadowed by the tributes sent by wealthy Arkham citizens and by the 
municipality itself. It was almost a public affair, for the dean had surely been a 
public benefactor. After the entombment we were all somewhat depressed, and 
spent the afternoon at the bar of the Commercial House; where West, though 
shaken by the death of his chief opponent, chilled the rest of us with references to 
his notorious theories. Most of the students went home, or to various duties, as 
the evening advanced; but West persuaded me to aid him in "making a night of 
it." West's landlady saw us arrive at his room about two in the morning, with a 
third man between us; and told her husband that we had all evidently dined and 
wined rather well. 

Apparently this acidulous matron was right; for about 3 a.m. the whole house 
was aroused by cries coming from West's room, where when they broke down 



180 



the door, they found the two of us unconscious on the blood-stained carpet, 
beaten, scratched, and mauled, and with the broken remnants of West's bottles 
and instruments around us. Only an open window told what had become of our 
assailant, and many wondered how he himself had fared after the terrific leap 
from the second story to the lawn which he must have made. There were some 
strange garments in the room, but West upon regaining consciousness said they 
did not belong to the stranger, but were specimens collected for bacteriological 
analysis in the course of investigations on the transmission of germ diseases. He 
ordered them burnt as soon as possible in the capacious fireplace. To the police 
we both declared ignorance of our late companion's identity. He was. West 
nervously said, a congenial stranger whom we had met at some downtown bar 
of uncertain location. We had all been rather jovial, and West and I did not wish 
to have our pugnacious companion hunted down. 

That same night saw the beginning of the second Arkham horror — the horror 
that to me eclipsed the plague itself. Christchurch Cemetery was the scene of a 
terrible killing; a watchman having been clawed to death in a manner not only 
too hideous for description, but raising a doubt as to the human agency of the 
deed. The victim had been seen alive considerably after midnight — the dawn 
revealed the unutterable thing. The manager of a circus at the neighbouring town 
of Bolton was questioned, but he swore that no beast had at any time escaped 
from its cage. Those who found the body noted a trail of blood leading to the 
receiving tomb, where a small pool of red lay on the concrete just outside the 
gate. A fainter trail led away toward the woods, but it soon gave out. 

The next night devils danced on the roofs of Arkham, and unnatural madness 
howled in the wind. Through the fevered town had crept a curse which some 
said was greater than the plague, and which some whispered was the embodied 
daemon-soul of the plague itself. Eight houses were entered by a nameless thing 
which strewed red death in its wake — in all, seventeen maimed and shapeless 
remnants of bodies were left behind by the voiceless, sadistic monster that crept 
abroad. A few persons had half seen it in the dark, and said it was white and like 
a malformed ape or anthropomorphic fiend. It had not left behind quite all that it 
had attacked, for sometimes it had been hungry. The number it had killed was 
fourteen; three of the bodies had been in stricken homes and had not been alive. 

On the third night frantic bands of searchers, led by the police, captured it in a 
house on Crane Street near the Miskatonic campus. They had organised the quest 
with care, keeping in touch by means of volunteer telephone stations, and when 
someone in the college district had reported hearing a scratching at a shuttered 
window, the net was quickly spread. On account of the general alarm and 
precautions, there were only two more victims, and the capture was effected 
without major casualties. The thing was finally stopped by a bullet, though not a 



181 



fatal one, and was rushed to the local hospital amidst universal excitement and 
loathing. 

For it had been a man. This much was clear despite the nauseous eyes, the 
voiceless simianism, and the daemoniac savagery. They dressed its wound and 
carted it to the asylum at Sefton, where it beat its head against the walls of a 
padded cell for sixteen years — until the recent mishap, when it escaped under 
circumstances that few like to mention. What had most disgusted the searchers 
of Arkham was the thing they noticed when the monster's face was cleaned — 
the mocking, unbelievable resemblance to a learned and self-sacrificing martyr 
who had been entombed but three days before — the late Dr. Allan Halsey, 
public benefactor and dean of the medical school of Miskatonic University. 

To the vanished Herbert West and to me the disgust and horror were supreme. I 
shudder tonight as I think of it; shudder even more than I did that morning 
when West muttered through his bandages, "Damn it, it wasn't quite fresh 
enough!" 

III. Six Shots by MoonHght 

Pubhshed April 1922 in Home Brew Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 21-26. 

It is uncommon to fire all six shots of a revolver with great suddenness when one 
would probably be sufficient, but many things in the life of Herbert West were 
uncommon. It is, for instance, not often that a young physician leaving college is 
obliged to conceal the principles which guide his selection of a home and office, 
yet that was the case with Herbert West. When he and I obtained our degrees at 
the medical school of Miskatonic University, and sought to relieve our poverty 
by setting up as general practitioners, we took great care not to say that we chose 
our house because it was fairly well isolated, and as near as possible to the 
potter's field. 

Reticence such as this is seldom without a cause, nor indeed was ours; for our 
requirements were those resulting from a life-work distinctly unpopular. 
Outwardly we were doctors only, but beneath the surface were aims of far 
greater and more terrible moment — for the essence of Herbert West's existence 
was a quest amid black and forbidden realms of the unknown, in which he 
hoped to uncover the secret of life and restore to perpetual animation the 
graveyard's cold clay. Such a quest demands strange materials, among them 
fresh human bodies; and in order to keep supplied with these indispensable 
things one must live quietly and not far from a place of informal interment. 



182 



West and I had met in college, and I had been the only one to sympathise with 
his hideous experiments. Gradually I had come to be his inseparable assistant, 
and now that we were out of college we had to keep together. It was not easy to 
find a good opening for two doctors in company, but finally the influence of the 
university secured us a practice in Bolton — a factory town near Arkham, the 
seat of the college. The Bolton Worsted Mills are the largest in the Miskatonic 
Valley, and their polyglot employees are never popular as patients with the local 
physicians. We chose our house with the greatest care, seizing at last on a rather 
run-down cottage near the end of Pond Street; five numbers from the closest 
neighbour, and separated from the local potter's field by only a stretch of 
meadow land, bisected by a narrow neck of the rather dense forest which lies to 
the north. The distance was greater than we wished, but we could get no nearer 
house without going on the other side of the field, wholly out of the factory 
district. We were not much displeased, however, since there were no people 
between us and our sinister source of supplies. The walk was a trifle long, but we 
could haul our silent specimens undisturbed. 

Our practice was surprisingly large from the very first — large enough to please 
most young doctors, and large enough to prove a bore and a burden to students 
whose real interest lay elsewhere. The mill-hands were of somewhat turbulent 
inclinations; and besides their many natural needs, their frequent clashes and 
stabbing affrays gave us plenty to do. But what actually absorbed our minds was 
the secret laboratory we had fitted up in the cellar — the laboratory with the long 
table under the electric lights, where in the small hours of the morning we often 
injected West's various solutions into the veins of the things we dragged from 
the potter's field. West was experimenting madly to find something which 
would start man's vital motions anew after they had been stopped by the thing 
we call death, but had encountered the most ghastly obstacles. The solution had 
to be differently compounded for different types — what would serve for 
guinea-pigs would not serve for human beings, and different human specimens 
required large modifications. 

The bodies had to be exceedingly fresh, or the slight decomposition of brain 
tissue would render perfect reanimation impossible. Indeed, the greatest 
problem was to get them fresh enough — West had had horrible experiences 
during his secret college researches with corpses of doubtful vintage. The results 
of partial or imperfect animation were much more hideous than were the total 
failures, and we both held fearsome recollections of such things. Ever since our 
first daemoniac session in the deserted farmhouse on Meadow Hill in Arkham, 
we had felt a brooding menace; and West, though a calm, blond, blue-eyed 
scientific automaton in most respects, often confessed to a shuddering sensation 
of stealthy pursuit. He half felt that he was followed — a psychological delusion 
of shaken nerves, enhanced by the undeniably disturbing fact that at least one of 



183 



our reanimated specimens was still alive — a frightful carnivorous thing in a 
padded cell at Sefton. Then there was another — our first — whose exact fate we 
had never learned. 

We had fair luck with specimens in Bolton — much better than in Arkham. We 
had not been settled a week before we got an accident victim on the very night of 
burial, and made it open its eyes with an amazingly rational expression before 
the solution failed. It had lost an arm — if it had been a perfect body we might 
have succeeded better. Between then and the next January we secured three 
more; one total failure, one case of marked muscular motion, and one rather 
shivery thing — it rose of itself and uttered a sound. Then came a period when 
luck was poor; interments fell off, and those that did occur were of specimens 
either too diseased or too maimed for use. We kept track of all the deaths and 
their circumstances with systematic care. 

One March night, however, we unexpectedly obtained a specimen which did not 
come from the potter's field. In Bolton the prevailing spirit of Puritanism had 
outlawed the sport of boxing — with the usual result. Surreptitious and ill- 
conducted bouts among the mill-workers were common, and occasionally 
professional talent of low grade was imported. This late winter night there had 
been such a match; evidently with disastrous results, since two timorous Poles 
had come to us with incoherently whispered entreaties to attend to a very secret 
and desperate case. We followed them to an abandoned barn, where the 
remnants of a crowd of frightened foreigners were watching a silent black form 
on the floor. 

The match had been between Kid O'Brien — a lubberly and now quaking youth 
with a most un-Hibernian hooked nose — and Buck Robinson, "The Harlem 
Smoke." The negro had been knocked out, and a moment's examination shewed 
us that he would permanently remain so. He was a loathsome, gorilla-like thing, 
with abnormally long arms which I could not help calling fore legs, and a face 
that conjured up thoughts of unspeakable Congo secrets and tom-tom poundings 
under an eerie moon. The body must have looked even worse in life — but the 
world holds many ugly things. Fear was upon the whole pitiful crowd, for they 
did not know what the law would exact of them if the affair were not hushed up; 
and they were grateful when West, in spite of my involuntary shudders, offered 
to get rid of the thing quietly — for a purpose I knew too well. 

There was bright moonlight over the snowless landscape, but we dressed the 
thing and carried it home between us through the deserted streets and meadows, 
as we had carried a similar thing one horrible night in Arkham. We approached 
the house from the field in the rear, took the specimen in the back door and 
down the cellar stairs, and prepared it for the usual experiment. Our fear of the 



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police was absurdly great, though we had timed our trip to avoid the solitary 
patrolman of that section. 

The result was wearily anticlimactic. Ghastly as our prize appeared, it was 
wholly unresponsive to every solution we injected in its black arm; solutions 
prepared from experience with white specimens only. So as the hour grew 
dangerously near to dawn, we did as we had done with the others — dragged 
the thing across the meadows to the neck of the woods near the potter's field, 
and buried it there in the best sort of grave the frozen ground would furnish. The 
grave was not very deep, but fully as good as that of the previous specimen — 
the thing which had risen of itself and uttered a sound. In the light of our dark 
lanterns we carefully covered it with leaves and dead vines, fairly certain that the 
police would never find it in a forest so dim and dense. 

The next day I was increasingly apprehensive about the police, for a patient 
brought rumours of a suspected fight and death. West had still another source of 
worry, for he had been called in the afternoon to a case which ended very 
threateningly. An Italian woman had become hysterical over her missing child — 
a lad of five who had strayed off early in the morning and failed to appear for 
dinner — and had developed symptoms highly alarming in view of an always 
weak heart. It was a very foolish hysteria, for the boy had often run away before; 
but Italian peasants are exceedingly superstitious, and this woman seemed as 
much harassed by omens as by facts. About seven o'clock in the evening she had 
died, and her frantic husband had made a frightful scene in his efforts to kill 
West, whom he wildly blamed for not saving her life. Friends had held him 
when he drew a stiletto, but West departed amidst his inhuman shrieks, curses 
and oaths of vengeance. In his latest affliction the fellow seemed to have 
forgotten his child, who was still missing as the night advanced. There was some 
talk of searching the woods, but most of the family's friends were busy with the 
dead woman and the screaming man. Altogether, the nervous strain upon West 
must have been tremendous. Thoughts of the police and of the mad Italian both 
weighed heavily. 

We retired about eleven, but I did not sleep well. Bolton had a surprisingly good 
police force for so small a town, and I could not help fearing the mess which 
would ensue if the affair of the night before were ever tracked down. It might 
mean the end of all our local work — and perhaps prison for both West and me. I 
did not like those rumours of a fight which were floating about. After the clock 
had struck three the moon shone in my eyes, but I turned over without rising to 
pull down the shade. Then came the steady rattling at the back door. 

I lay still and somewhat dazed, but before long heard West's rap on my door. He 
was clad in dressing- gown and slippers, and had in his hands a revolver and an 



185 



electric flashlight. From the revolver I knew that he was thinking more of the 
crazed Italian than of the police. 

"We'd better both go/' he whispered. "It wouldn't do not to answer it anyway, 
and it may be a patient — it would be like one of those fools to try the back 
door." 

So we both went down the stairs on tiptoe, with a fear partly justified and partly 
that which comes only from the soul of the weird small hours. The rattling 
continued, growing somewhat louder. When we reached the door I cautiously 
unbolted it and threw it open, and as the moon streamed revealingly down on 
the form silhouetted there. West did a peculiar thing. Despite the obvious danger 
of attracting notice and bringing down on our heads the dreaded police 
investigation — a thing which after all was mercifully averted by the relative 
isolation of our cottage — my friend suddenly, excitedly, and unnecessarily 
emptied all six chambers of his revolver into the nocturnal visitor. 

For that visitor was neither Italian nor policeman. Looming hideously against the 
spectral moon was a gigantic misshapen thing not to be imagined save in 
nightmares — a glassy-eyed, ink-black apparition nearly on all fours, covered 
with bits of mould, leaves, and vines, foul with caked blood, and having between 
its glistening teeth a snow-white, terrible, cylindrical object terminating in a tiny 
hand. 

IV. The Scream of the Dead 

Pubhshed May 1922 in Home Brew Vol. 1, No. 4, p. 53-58. 

The scream of a dead man gave to me that acute and added horror of Dr. Herbert 
West which harassed the latter years of our companionship. It is natural that 
such a thing as a dead man's scream should give horror, for it is obviously, not a 
pleasing or ordinary occurrence; but I was used to similar experiences, hence 
suffered on this occasion only because of a particular circumstance. And, as I 
have implied, it was not of the dead man himself that I became afraid. 

Herbert West, whose associate and assistant I was, possessed scientific interests 
far beyond the usual routine of a village physician. That was why, when 
establishing his practice in Bolton, he had chosen an isolated house near the 
potter's field. Briefly and brutally stated. West's sole absorbing interest was a 
secret study of the phenomena of life and its cessation, leading toward the 
reanimation of the dead through injections of an excitant solution. For this 
ghastly experimenting it was necessary to have a constant supply of very fresh 
human bodies; very fresh because even the least decay hopelessly damaged the 



186 



brain structure, and human because we found that the solution had to be 
compounded differently for different types of organisms. Scores of rabbits and 
guinea-pigs had been killed and treated, but their trail was a blind one. West had 
never fully succeeded because he had never been able to secure a corpse 
sufficiently fresh. What he wanted were bodies from which vitality had only just 
departed; bodies with every cell intact and capable of receiving again the 
impulse toward that mode of motion called life. There was hope that this second 
and artificial life might be made perpetual by repetitions of the injection, but we 
had learned that an ordinary natural life would not respond to the action. To 
establish the artificial motion, natural life must be extinct — the specimens must 
be very fresh, but genuinely dead. 

The awesome quest had begun when West and I were students at the Miskatonic 
University Medical School in Arkham, vividly conscious for the first time of the 
thoroughly mechanical nature of life. That was seven years before, but West 
looked scarcely a day older now — he was small, blond, clean-shaven, soft- 
voiced, and spectacled, with only an occasional flash of a cold blue eye to tell of 
the hardening and growing fanaticism of his character under the pressure of his 
terrible investigations. Our experiences had often been hideous in the extreme; 
the results of defective reanimation, when lumps of graveyard clay had been 
galvanised into morbid, unnatural, and brainless motion by various 
modifications of the vital solution. 

One thing had uttered a nerve-shattering scream; another had risen violently, 
beaten us both to unconsciousness, and run amuck in a shocking way before it 
could be placed behind asylum bars; still another, a loathsome African 
monstrosity, had clawed out of its shallow grave and done a deed — West had 
had to shoot that object. We could not get bodies fresh enough to shew any trace 
of reason when reanimated, so had perforce created nameless horrors. It was 
disturbing to think that one, perhaps two, of our monsters still lived — that 
thought haunted us shadowingly, till finally West disappeared under frightful 
circumstances. But at the time of the scream in the cellar laboratory of the 
isolated Bolton cottage, our fears were subordinate to our anxiety for extremely 
fresh specimens. West was more avid than I, so that it almost seemed to me that 
he looked half-covetously at any very healthy living physique. 

It was in July, 1910, that the bad luck regarding specimens began to turn. I had 
been on a long visit to my parents in Illinois, and upon my return found West in 
a state of singular elation. He had, he told me excitedly, in all likelihood solved 
the problem of freshness through an approach from an entirely new angle — that 
of artificial preservation. I had known that he was working on a new and highly 
unusual embalming compound, and was not surprised that it had turned out 
well; but until he explained the details I was rather puzzled as to how such a 



187 



compound could help in our work, since the objectionable staleness of the 
specimens was largely due to delay occurring before we secured them. This, I 
now saw. West had clearly recognised; creating his embalming compound for 
future rather than immediate use, and trusting to fate to supply again some very 
recent and unburied corpse, as it had years before when we obtained the negro 
killed in the Bolton prize-fight. At last fate had been kind, so that on this occasion 
there lay in the secret cellar laboratory a corpse whose decay could not by any 
possibility have begun. What would happen on reanimation, and whether we 
could hope for a revival of mind and reason. West did not venture to predict. The 
experiment would be a landmark in our studies, and he had saved the new body 
for my return, so that both might share the spectacle in accustomed fashion. 

West told me how he had obtained the specimen. It had been a vigorous man; a 
well-dressed stranger just off the train on his way to transact some business with 
the Bolton Worsted Mills. The walk through the town had been long, and by the 
time the traveller paused at our cottage to ask the way to the factories, his heart 
had become greatly overtaxed. He had refused a stimulant, and had suddenly 
dropped dead only a moment later. The body, as might be expected, seemed to 
West a heaven-sent gift. In his brief conversation the stranger had made it clear 
that he was unknown in Bolton, and a search of his pockets subsequently 
revealed him to be one Robert Leavitt of St. Louis, apparently without a family to 
make instant inquiries about his disappearance. If this man could not be restored 
to life, no one would know of our experiment. We buried our materials in a 
dense strip of woods between the house and the potter's field. If, on the other 
hand, he could be restored, our fame would be brilliantly and perpetually 
established. So without delay West had injected into the body's wrist the 
compound which would hold it fresh for use after my arrival. The matter of the 
presumably weak heart, which to my mind imperilled the success of our 
experiment, did not appear to trouble West extensively. He hoped at last to 
obtain what he had never obtained before — a rekindled spark of reason and 
perhaps a normal, living creature. 

So on the night of July 18, 1910, Herbert West and I stood in the cellar laboratory 
and gazed at a white, silent figure beneath the dazzling arc-light. The embalming 
compound had worked uncannily well, for as I stared fascinatedly at the sturdy 
frame which had lain two weeks without stiffening, I was moved to seek West's 
assurance that the thing was really dead. This assurance he gave readily enough; 
reminding me that the reanimating solution was never used without careful tests 
as to life, since it could have no effect if any of the original vitality were present. 
As West proceeded to take preliminary steps, I was impressed by the vast 
intricacy of the new experiment; an intricacy so vast that he could trust no hand 
less delicate than his own. Forbidding me to touch the body, he first injected a 
drug in the wrist just beside the place his needle had punctured when injecting 



188 



the embalming compound. This, he said, was to neutrahse the compound and 
release the system to a normal relaxation so that the reanimating solution might 
freely work when injected. Slightly later, when a change and a gentle tremor 
seemed to affect the dead limbs; West stuffed a pillow-like object violently over 
the twitching face, not withdrawing it until the corpse appeared quiet and ready 
for our attempt at reanimation. The pale enthusiast now applied some last 
perfunctory tests for absolute lifelessness, withdrew satisfied, and finally injected 
into the left arm an accurately measured amount of the vital elixir, prepared 
during the afternoon with a greater care than we had used since college days, 
when our feats were new and groping. I cannot express the wild, breathless 
suspense with which we waited for results on this first really fresh specimen — 
the first we could reasonably expect to open its lips in rational speech, perhaps to 
tell of what it had seen beyond the unfathomable abyss. 

West was a materialist, believing in no soul and attributing all the working of 
consciousness to bodily phenomena; consequently he looked for no revelation of 
hideous secrets from gulfs and caverns beyond death's barrier. I did not wholly 
disagree with him theoretically, yet held vague instinctive remnants of the 
primitive faith of my forefathers; so that I could not help eyeing the corpse with a 
certain amount of awe and terrible expectation. Besides — I could not extract 
from my memory that hideous, inhuman shriek we heard on the night we tried 
our first experiment in the deserted farmhouse at Arkham. 

Very little time had elapsed before I saw the attempt was not to be a total failure. 
A touch of colour came to cheeks hitherto chalk-white, and spread out under the 
curiously ample stubble of sandy beard. West, who had his hand on the pulse of 
the left wrist, suddenly nodded significantly; and almost simultaneously a mist 
appeared on the mirror inclined above the body's mouth. There followed a few 
spasmodic muscular motions, and then an audible breathing and visible motion 
of the chest. I looked at the closed eyelids, and thought I detected a quivering. 
Then the lids opened, shewing eyes which were grey, calm, and alive, but still 
unintelligent and not even curious. 

In a moment of fantastic whim I whispered questions to the reddening ears; 
questions of other worlds of which the memory might still be present. 
Subsequent terror drove them from my mind, but I think the last one, which I 
repeated, was: "Where have you been?" I do not yet know whether I was 
answered or not, for no sound came from the well-shaped mouth; but I do know 
that at that moment I firmly thought the thin lips moved silently, forming 
syllables which I would have vocalised as "only now" if that phrase had 
possessed any sense or relevancy. At that moment, as I say, I was elated with the 
conviction that the one great goal had been attained; and that for the first time a 
reanimated corpse had uttered distinct words impelled by actual reason. In the 



189 



next moment there was no doubt about the triumph; no doubt that the solution 
had truly accomplished, at least temporarily, its full mission of restoring rational 
and articulate life to the dead. But in that triumph there came to me the greatest 
of all horrors — not horror of the thing that spoke, but of the deed that I had 
witnessed and of the man with whom my professional fortunes were joined. 

For that very fresh body, at last writhing into full and terrifying consciousness 
with eyes dilated at the memory of its last scene on earth, threw out its frantic 
hands in a life and death struggle with the air, and suddenly collapsing into a 
second and final dissolution from which there could be no return, screamed out 
the cry that will ring eternally in my aching brain: 

"Help! Keep off, you cursed little tow-head fiend — keep that damned needle 
away from me!" 

V. The Horror From the Shadows 

Pubhshed June 1922 in Home Brew Vol. 1, No. 5, p. 45-50. 

Many men have related hideous things, not mentioned in print, which happened 
on the battlefields of the Great War. Some of these things have made me faint, 
others have convulsed me with devastating nausea, while still others have made 
me tremble and look behind me in the dark; yet despite the worst of them I 
believe I can myself relate the most hideous thing of all — the shocking, the 
unnatural, the unbelievable horror from the shadows. 

In 1915 I was a physician with the rank of First Lieutenant in a Canadian 
regiment in Flanders, one of many Americans to precede the government itself 
into the gigantic struggle. I had not entered the army on my own initiative, but 
rather as a natural result of the enlistment of the man whose indispensable 
assistant I was — the celebrated Boston surgical specialist. Dr. Herbert West. Dr. 
West had been avid for a chance to serve as surgeon in a great war, and when the 
chance had come, he carried me with him almost against my will. There were 
reasons why I could have been glad to let the war separate us; reasons why I 
found the practice of medicine and the companionship of West more and more 
irritating; but when he had gone to Ottawa and through a colleague's influence 
secured a medical commission as Major, I could not resist the imperious 
persuasion of one determined that I should accompany him in my usual 
capacity. 

When I say that Dr. West was avid to serve in battle, I do not mean to imply that 
he was either naturally warlike or anxious for the safety of civilisation. Always 
an ice-cold intellectual machine; slight, blond, blue-eyed, and spectacled; I think 



190 



he secretly sneered at my occasional martial enthusiasms and censures of supine 
neutrality. There was, however, something he wanted in embattled Flanders; and 
in order to secure it had had to assume a military exterior. What he wanted was 
not a thing which many persons want, but something connected with the 
peculiar branch of medical science which he had chosen quite clandestinely to 
follow, and in which he had achieved amazing and occasionally hideous results. 
It was, in fact, nothing more or less than an abundant supply of freshly killed 
men in every stage of dismemberment. 

Herbert West needed fresh bodies because his life-work was the reanimation of 
the dead. This work was not known to the fashionable clientele who had so 
swiftly built up his fame after his arrival in Boston; but was only too well known 
to me, who had been his closest friend and sole assistant since the old days in 
Miskatonic University Medical School at Arkham. It was in those college days 
that he had begun his terrible experiments, first on small animals and then on 
human bodies shockingly obtained. There was a solution which he injected into 
the veins of dead things, and if they were fresh enough they responded in 
strange ways. He had had much trouble in discovering the proper formula, for 
each type of organism was found to need a stimulus especially adapted to it. 
Terror stalked him when he reflected on his partial failures; nameless things 
resulting from imperfect solutions or from bodies insufficiently fresh. A certain 
number of these failures had remained alive — one was in an asylum while 
others had vanished — and as he thought of conceivable yet virtually impossible 
eventualities he often shivered beneath his usual stolidity. 

West had soon learned that absolute freshness was the prime requisite for useful 
specimens, and had accordingly resorted to frightful and unnatural expedients in 
body-snatching. In college, and during our early practice together in the factory 
town of Bolton, my attitude toward him had been largely one of fascinated 
admiration; but as his boldness in methods grew, I began to develop a gnawing 
fear. I did not like the way he looked at healthy living bodies; and then there 
came a nightmarish session in the cellar laboratory when I learned that a certain 
specimen had been a living body when he secured it. That was the first time he 
had ever been able to revive the quality of rational thought in a corpse; and his 
success, obtained at such a loathsome cost, had completely hardened him. 

Of his methods in the intervening five years I dare not speak. I was held to him 
by sheer force of fear, and witnessed sights that no human tongue could repeat. 
Gradually I came to find Herbert West himself more horrible than anything he 
did — that was when it dawned on me that his once normal scientific zeal for 
prolonging life had subtly degenerated into a mere morbid and ghoulish 
curiosity and secret sense of charnel picturesqueness. His interest became a 
hellish and perverse addiction to the repellently and fiendishly abnormal; he 



191 



gloated calmly over artificial monstrosities which would make most healthy men 
drop dead from fright and disgust; he became, behind his pallid intellectuality, a 
fastidious Baudelaire of physical experiment — a languid Elagabalus of the 
tombs. 

Dangers he met unflinchingly; crimes he committed unmoved. I think the climax 
came when he had proved his point that rational life can be restored, and had 
sought new worlds to conquer by experimenting on the reanimation of detached 
parts of bodies. He had wild and original ideas on the independent vital 
properties of organic cells and nerve-tissue separated from natural physiological 
systems; and achieved some hideous preliminary results in the form of never- 
dying, artificially nourished tissue obtained from the nearly hatched eggs of an 
indescribable tropical reptile. Two biological points he was exceedingly anxious 
to settle — first, whether any amount of consciousness and rational action be 
possible without the brain, proceeding from the spinal cord and various nerve- 
centres; and second, whether any kind of ethereal, intangible relation distinct 
from the material cells may exist to link the surgically separated parts of what 
has previously been a single living organism. All this research work required a 
prodigious supply of freshly slaughtered human flesh — and that was why 
Herbert West had entered the Great War. 

The phantasmal, unmentionable thing occurred one midnight late in March, 
1915, in a field hospital behind the lines of St. Eloi. I wonder even now if it could 
have been other than a daemoniac dream of delirium. West had a private 
laboratory in an east room of the barn-like temporary edifice, assigned him on 
his plea that he was devising new and radical methods for the treatment of 
hitherto hopeless cases of maiming. There he worked like a butcher in the midst 
of his gory wares — I could never get used to the levity with which he handled 
and classified certain things. At times he actually did perform marvels of surgery 
for the soldiers; but his chief delights were of a less public and philanthropic 
kind, requiring many explanations of sounds which seemed peculiar even 
amidst that babel of the damned. Among these sounds were frequent revolver- 
shots — surely not uncommon on a battlefield, but distinctly uncommon in an 
hospital. Dr. West's reanimated specimens were not meant for long existence or a 
large audience. Besides human tissue. West employed much of the reptile 
embryo tissue which he had cultivated with such singular results. It was better 
than human material for maintaining life in organless fragments, and that was 
now my friend's chief activity. In a dark corner of the laboratory, over a queer 
incubating burner, he kept a large covered vat full of this reptilian cell-matter; 
which multiplied and grew puffily and hideously. 

On the night of which I speak we had a splendid new specimen — a man at once 
physically powerful and of such high mentality that a sensitive nervous system 



192 



was assured. It was rather ironic, for he was the officer who had helped West to 
his commission, and who was now to have been our associate. Moreover, he had 
in the past secretly studied the theory of reanimation to some extent under West. 
Major Sir Eric Moreland Clapham-Lee, D.S.O., was the greatest surgeon in our 
division, and had been hastily assigned to the St. Eloi sector when news of the 
heavy fighting reached headquarters. He had come in an aeroplane piloted by 
the intrepid Lieut. Ronald Hill, only to be shot down when directly over his 
destination. The fall had been spectacular and awful; Hill was unrecognisable 
afterward, but the wreck yielded up the great surgeon in a nearly decapitated 
but otherwise intact condition. West had greedily seized the lifeless thing which 
had once been his friend and fellow-scholar; and I shuddered when he finished 
severing the head, placed it in his hellish vat of pulpy reptile-tissue to preserve it 
for future experiments, and proceeded to treat the decapitated body on the 
operating table. He injected new blood, joined certain veins, arteries, and nerves 
at the headless neck, and closed the ghastly aperture with engrafted skin from an 
unidentified specimen which had borne an officer's uniform. I knew what he 
wanted — to see if this highly organised body could exhibit, without its head, 
any of the signs of mental life which had distinguished Sir Eric Moreland 
Clapham-Lee. Once a student of reanimation, this silent trunk was now 
gruesomely called upon to exemplify it. 

I can still see Herbert West under the sinister electric light as he injected his 
reanimating solution into the arm of the headless body. The scene I cannot 
describe — I should faint if I tried it, for there is madness in a room full of 
classified charnel things, with blood and lesser human debris almost ankle-deep 
on the slimy floor, and with hideous reptilian abnormalities sprouting, bubbling, 
and baking over a winking bluish-green spectre of dim flame in a far corner of 
black shadows. 

The specimen, as West repeatedly observed, had a splendid nervous system. 
Much was expected of it; and as a few twitching motions began to appear, I 
could see the feverish interest on West's face. He was ready, I think, to see proof 
of his increasingly strong opinion that consciousness, reason, and personality can 
exist independently of the brain — that man has no central connective spirit, but 
is merely a machine of nervous matter, each section more or less complete in 
itself. In one triumphant demonstration West was about to relegate the mystery 
of life to the category of myth. The body now twitched more vigorously, and 
beneath our avid eyes commenced to heave in a frightful way. The arms stirred 
disquietingly, the legs drew up, and various muscles contracted in a repulsive 
kind of writhing. Then the headless thing threw out its arms in a gesture which 
was unmistakably one of desperation — an intelligent desperation apparently 
sufficient to prove every theory of Herbert West. Certainly, the nerves were 
recalling the man's last act in life; the struggle to get free of the falling aeroplane. 



193 



What followed, I shall never positively know. It may have been wholly an 
hallucination from the shock caused at that instant by the sudden and complete 
destruction of the building in a cataclysm of German shell-fire — who can 
gainsay it, since West and I were the only proved survivors? West liked to think 
that before his recent disappearance, but there were times when he could not; for 
it was queer that we both had the same hallucination. The hideous occurrence 
itself was very simple, notable only for what it implied. 

The body on the table had risen with a blind and terrible groping, and we had 
heard a sound. I should not call that sound a voice, for it was too awful. And yet 
its timbre was not the most awful thing about it. Neither was its message — it 
had merely screamed, "Jump, Ronald, for God's sake, jump!" The awful thing 
was its source. 

For it had come from the large covered vat in that ghoulish corner of crawling 
black shadows. 

VI. The Tomb-Legions 

Pubhshed July 1922 in Home Brew Vol. 1, No. 6, p. 57-62. 

When Dr. Herbert West disappeared a year ago, the Boston police questioned me 
closely. They suspected that I was holding something back, and perhaps 
suspected graver things; but I could not tell them the truth because they would 
not have believed it. They knew, indeed, that West had been connected with 
activities beyond the credence of ordinary men; for his hideous experiments in 
the reanimation of dead bodies had long been too extensive to admit of perfect 
secrecy; but the final soul-shattering catastrophe held elements of daemoniac 
phantasy which make even me doubt the reality of what I saw. 

I was West's closest friend and only confidential assistant. We had met years 
before, in medical school, and from the first I had shared his terrible researches. 
He had slowly tried to perfect a solution which, injected into the veins of the 
newly deceased, would restore life; a labour demanding an abundance of fresh 
corpses and therefore involving the most unnatural actions. Still more shocking 
were the products of some of the experiments — grisly masses of flesh that had 
been dead, but that West waked to a blind, brainless, nauseous ammation. These 
were the usual results, for in order to reawaken the mind it was necessary to 
have specimens so absolutely fresh that no decay could possibly affect the 
delicate brain- cells. 

This need for very fresh corpses had been West's moral undoing. They were hard 
to get, and one awful day he had secured his specimen while it was still alive and 



194 



vigorous. A struggle, a needle, and a powerful alkaloid had transformed it to a 
very fresh corpse, and the experiment had succeeded for a brief and memorable 
moment; but West had emerged with a soul calloused and seared, and a 
hardened eye which sometimes glanced with a kind of hideous and calculating 
appraisal at men of especially sensitive brain and especially vigorous physique. 
Toward the last I became acutely afraid of West, for he began to look at me that 
way. People did not seem to notice his glances, but they noticed my fear; and 
after his disappearance used that as a basis for some absurd suspicions. 

West, in reality, was more afraid than I; for his abominable pursuits entailed a 
life of furtiveness and dread of every shadow. Partly it was the police he feared; 
but sometimes his nervousness was deeper and more nebulous, touching on 
certain indescribable things into which he had injected a morbid life, and from 
which he had not seen that life depart. He usually finished his experiments with 
a revolver, but a few times he had not been quick enough. There was that first 
specimen on whose rifled grave marks of clawing were later seen. There was also 
that Arkham professor's body which had done cannibal things before it had been 
captured and thrust unidentified into a madhouse cell at Sefton, where it beat the 
walls for sixteen years. Most of the other possibly surviving results were things 
less easy to speak of — for in later years West's scientific zeal had degenerated to 
an unhealthy and fantastic mania, and he had spent his chief skill in vitalising 
not entire human bodies but isolated parts of bodies, or parts joined to organic 
matter other than human. It had become fiendishly disgusting by the time he 
disappeared; many of the experiments could not even be hinted at in print. The 
Great War, through which both of us served as surgeons, had intensified this 
side of West. 

In saying that West's fear of his specimens was nebulous, I have in mind 
particularly its complex nature. Part of it came merely from knowing of the 
existence of such nameless monsters, while another part arose from 
apprehension of the bodily harm they might under certain circumstances do him. 
Their disappearance added horror to the situation — of them all. West knew the 
whereabouts of only one, the pitiful asylum thing. Then there was a more subtle 
fear — a very fantastic sensation resulting from a curious experiment in the 
Canadian army in 1915. West, in the midst of a severe battle, had reanimated 
Major Sir Eric Moreland Clapham-Lee, D.S.O., a fellow-physician who knew 
about his experiments and could have duplicated them. The head had been 
removed, so that the possibilities of quasi-intelligent life in the trunk might be 
investigated. Just as the building was wiped out by a German shell, there had 
been a success. The trunk had moved intelligently; and, unbelievable to relate, 
we were both sickeningly sure that articulate sounds had come from the 
detached head as it lay in a shadowy corner of the laboratory. The shell had been 
merciful, in a way — but West could never feel as certain as he wished, that we 



195 



two were the only survivors. He used to make shuddering conjectures about the 
possible actions of a headless physician with the power of reanimating the dead. 

West's last quarters were in a venerable house of much elegance, overlooking 
one of the oldest burying- grounds in Boston. He had chosen the place for purely 
symbolic and fantastically aesthetic reasons, since most of the interments were of 
the colonial period and therefore of little use to a scientist seeking very fresh 
bodies. The laboratory was in a sub-cellar secretly constructed by imported 
workmen, and contained a huge incinerator for the quiet and complete disposal 
of such bodies, or fragments and synthetic mockeries of bodies, as might remain 
from the morbid experiments and unhallowed amusements of the owner. During 
the excavation of this cellar the workmen had struck some exceedingly ancient 
masonry; undoubtedly connected with the old burying-ground, yet far too deep 
to correspond with any known sepulchre therein. After a number of calculations 
West decided that it represented some secret chamber beneath the tomb of the 
Averills, where the last interment had been made in 1768. I was with him when 
he studied the nitrous, dripping walls laid bare by the spades and mattocks of 
the men, and was prepared for the gruesome thrill which would attend the 
uncovering of centuried grave-secrets; but for the first time West's new timidity 
conquered his natural curiosity, and he betrayed his degenerating fibre by 
ordering the masonry left intact and plastered over. Thus it remained till that 
final hellish night; part of the walls of the secret laboratory. I speak of West's 
decadence, but must add that it was a purely mental and intangible thing. 
Outwardly he was the same to the last — calm, cold, slight, and yellow-haired, 
with spectacled blue eyes and a general aspect of youth which years and fears 
seemed never to change. He seemed calm even when he thought of that clawed 
grave and looked over his shoulder; even when he thought of the carnivorous 
thing that gnawed and pawed at Sefton bars. 

The end of Herbert West began one evening in our joint study when he was 
dividing his curious glance between the newspaper and me. A strange headline 
item had struck at him from the crumpled pages, and a nameless titan claw had 
seemed to reach down through sixteen years. Something fearsome and incredible 
had happened at Sefton Asylum fifty miles away, stunning the neighbourhood 
and baffling the police. In the small hours of the morning a body of silent men 
had entered the grounds, and their leader had aroused the attendants. He was a 
menacing military figure who talked without moving his lips and whose voice 
seemed almost ventriloquially connected with an immense black case he carried. 
His expressionless face was handsome to the point of radiant beauty, but had 
shocked the superintendent when the hall light fell on it — for it was a wax face 
with eyes of painted glass. Some nameless accident had befallen this man. A 
larger man guided his steps; a repellent hulk whose bluish face seemed half 
eaten away by some unknown malady. The speaker had asked for the custody of 



196 



the cannibal monster committed from Arkham sixteen years before; and upon 
being refused, gave a signal which precipitated a shocking riot. The fiends had 
beaten, trampled, and bitten every attendant who did not flee; killing four and 
finally succeeding in the liberation of the monster. Those victims who could 
recall the event without hysteria swore that the creatures had acted less like men 
than like unthinkable automata guided by the wax-faced leader. By the time help 
could be summoned, every trace of the men and of their mad charge had 
vanished. 

From the hour of reading this item until midmght. West sat almost paralysed. At 
midnight the doorbell rang, startling him fearfully. All the servants were asleep 
in the attic, so I answered the bell. As I have told the police, there was no wagon 
in the street, but only a group of strange-looking figures bearing a large square 
box which they deposited in the hallway after one of them had grunted in a 
highly unnatural voice, "Express — prepaid." They filed out of the house with a 
jerky tread, and as I watched them go I had an odd idea that they were turning 
toward the ancient cemetery on which the back of the house abutted. When I 
slammed the door after them West came downstairs and looked at the box. It 
was about two feet square, and bore West's correct name and present address. It 
also bore the inscription, "From Eric Moreland Clapham-Lee, St. Eloi, Flanders." 
Six years before, in Flanders, a shelled hospital had fallen upon the headless 
reanimated trunk of Dr. Clapham-Lee, and upon the detached head which — 
perhaps — had uttered articulate sounds. 

West was not even excited now. His condition was more ghastly. Quickly he 
said, "It's the finish — but let's incinerate — this." We carried the thing down to 
the laboratory — listening. I do not remember many particulars — you can 
imagine my state of mind — but it is a vicious lie to say it was Herbert West's 
body which I put into the incinerator. We both inserted the whole unopened 
wooden box, closed the door, and started the electricity. Nor did any sound come 
from the box, after all. 

It was West who first noticed the falling plaster on that part of the wall where the 
ancient tomb masonry had been covered up. I was going to run, but he stopped 
me. Then I saw a small black aperture, felt a ghoulish wind of ice, and smelled 
the charnel bowels of a putrescent earth. There was no sound, but just then the 
electric lights went out and I saw outlined against some phosphorescence of the 
nether world a horde of silent toiling things which only insanity — or worse — 
could create. Their outlines were human, semi-human, fractionally human, and 
not human at all — the horde was grotesquely heterogeneous. They were 
removing the stones quietly, one by one, from the centuried wall. And then, as 
the breach became large enough, they came out into the laboratory in single file; 
led by a talking thing with a beautiful head made of wax. A sort of mad-eyed 



197 



monstrosity behind the leader seized on Herbert West. West did not resist or 
utter a sound. Then they all sprang at him and tore him to pieces before my eyes, 
bearing the fragments away into that subterranean vault of fabulous 
abominations. West's head was carried off by the wax-headed leader, who wore 
a Canadian officer's uniform. As it disappeared I saw that the blue eyes behind 
the spectacles were hideously blazing with their first touch of frantic, visible 
emotion. 

Servants found me unconscious in the morning. West was gone. The incinerator 
contained only unidentifiable ashes. Detectives have questioned me, but what 
can I say? The Sefton tragedy they will not connect with West; not that, nor the 
men with the box, whose existence they deny. I told them of the vault, and they 
pointed to the unbroken plaster wall and laughed. So I told them no more. They 
imply that I am either a madman or a murderer — probably I am mad. But I 
might not be mad if those accursed tomb- legions had not been so silent. 



198 



Hypnos 

Written Mar 1922 

Published May 1923 in The National Amateur, Vol. 45, No. 5, pages 1-3. 

Apropos of sleep, that sinister adventure of all our nights, we may say that men 
go to bed daily with an audacity that would be incomprehensible if we did not 
know that it is the result of ignorance of the danger. 

- Baudelaire 

May the merciful gods, if indeed there be such, guard those hours when no 
power of the will, or drug that the cunning of man devises, can keep me from the 
chasm of sleep. Death is merciful, for there is no return therefrom, but with him 
who has come back out of the nethermost chambers of night, haggard and 
knowing, peace rests nevermore. Fool that I was to plunge with such 
unsanctioned phrensy into mysteries no man was meant to penetrate; fool or god 
that he was - my only friend, who led me and went before me, and who in the 
end passed into terrors which may yet be mine! 

We met, I recall, in a railway station, where he was the center of a crowd of the 
vulgarly curious. He was unconscious, having fallen in a kind of convulsion 
which imparted to his slight black-clad body a strange rigidity. I think he was 
then approaching forty years of age, for there were deep lines in the face, wan 
and hollow-cheeked, but oval and actually beautiful; and touches of gray in the 
thick, waving hair and small full beard which had once been of the deepest raven 
black. His brow was white as the marble of Pentelicus, and of a height and 
breadth almost god-like. 

I said to myself, with all the ardor of a sculptor, that this man was a faun's statue 
out of antique Hellas, dug from a temple's ruins and brought somehow to life in 
our stifling age only to feel the chill and pressure of devastating years. And when 
he opened his immense, sunken, and wildly luminous black eyes I knew he 
would be thenceforth my only friend - the only friend of one who had never 
possessed a friend before - for I saw that such eyes must have looked fully upon 
the grandeur and the terror of realms beyond normal consciousness and reality; 
realms which I had cherished in fancy, but vainly sought. So as I drove the 
crowd away I told him he must come home with me and be my teacher and 
leader in unfathomed mysteries, and he assented without speaking a word. 
Afterward I found that his voice was music - the music of deep viols and of 
crystalline spheres. We talked often in the night, and in the day, when I chiseled 



199 



busts of him and carved miniature heads in ivory to immortahze his different 
expressions. 

Of our studies it is impossible to speak, since they held so slight a connection 
with anything of the world as living men conceive it. They were of that vaster 
and more appalling universe of dim entity and consciousness which lies deeper 
than matter, time, and space, and whose existence we suspect only in certain 
forms of sleep - those rare dreams beyond dreams which come never to common 
men, and but once or twice in the lifetime of imaginative men. The cosmos of our 
waking knowledge, born from such an universe as a bubble is born from the pipe 
of a jester, touches it only as such a bubble may touch its sardonic source when 
sucked back by the jester's whim. Men of learning suspect it little and ignore it 
mostly. Wise men have interpreted dreams, and the gods have laughed. One 
man with Oriental eyes has said that all time and space are relative, and men 
have laughed. But even that man with Oriental eyes has done no more than 
suspect. I had wished and tried to do more than suspect, and my friend had tried 
and partly succeeded. Then we both tried together, and with exotic drugs 
courted terrible and forbidden dreams in the tower studio chamber of the old 
manor-house in hoary Kent. 

Among the agonies of these after days is that chief of torments - inarticulateness. 
What I learned and saw in those hours of impious exploration can never be told - 
for want of symbols or suggestions in any language. I say this because from first 
to last our discoveries partook only of the nature of sensations; sensations 
correlated with no impression which the nervous system of normal humanity is 
capable of receiving. They were sensations, yet within them lay unbelievable 
elements of time and space - things which at bottom possess no distinct and 
definite existence. Human utterance can best convey the general character of our 
experiences by calling them plungings or soarings; for in every period of 
revelation some part of our minds broke boldly away from all that is real and 
present, rushing aerially along shocking, unlighted, and fear-haunted abysses, 
and occasionally tearing through certain well-marked and typical obstacles 
describable only as viscous, uncouth clouds of vapors. 

In these black and bodiless flights we were sometimes alone and sometimes 
together. When we were together, my friend was always far ahead; I could 
comprehend his presence despite the absence of form by a species of pictorial 
memory whereby his face appeared to me, golden from a strange light and 
frightful with its weird beauty, its anomalously youthful cheeks, its burning 
eyes, its Olympian brow, and its shadowing hair and growth of beard. 

Of the progress of time we kept no record, for time had become to us the merest 
illusion. I know only that there must have been something very singular 



200 



involved, since we came at length to marvel why we did not grow old. Our 
discourse was unholy, and always hideously ambitious - no god or daemon 
could have aspired to discoveries and conquest like those which we planned in 
whispers. I shiver as I speak of them, and dare not be explicit; though I will say 
that my friend once wrote on paper a wish which he dared not utter with his 
tongue, and which made me burn the paper and look affrightedly out of the 
window at the spangled night sky. I will hint - only hint - that he had designs 
which involved the rulership of the visible universe and more; designs whereby 
the earth and the stars would move at his command, and the destinies of all 
living things be his. I affirm - I swear - that I had no share in these extreme 
aspirations. Anything my friend may have said or written to the contrary must 
be erroneous, for I am no man of strength to risk the unmentionable spheres by 
which alone one might achieve success. 

There was a night when winds from unknown spaces whirled us irresistibly into 
limitless vacua beyond all thought and entity. Perceptions of the most 
maddeningly untransmissible sort thronged upon us; perceptions of infinity 
which at the time convulsed us with joy, yet which are now partly lost to my 
memory and partly incapable of presentation to others. Viscous obstacles were 
clawed through in rapid succession, and at length I felt that we had been borne 
to realms of greater remoteness than any we had previously known. 

My friend was vastly in advance as we plunged into this awesome ocean of 
virgin aether, and I could see the sinister exultation on his floating, luminous, 
too-youthful memory-face. Suddenly that face became dim and quickly 
disappeared, and in a brief space I found myself projected against an obstacle 
which I could not penetrate. It was like the others, yet incalculably denser; a 
sticky clammy mass, if such terms can be applied to analogous qualities in a non- 
material sphere. 

I had, I felt, been halted by a barrier which my friend and leader had successfully 
passed. Struggling anew, I came to the end of the drug-dream and opened my 
physical eyes to the tower studio in whose opposite corner reclined the pallid 
and still unconscious form of my fellow dreamer, weirdly haggard and wildly 
beautiful as the moon shed gold-green light on his marble features. 

Then, after a short interval, the form in the corner stirred; and may pitying 
heaven keep from my sight and sound another thing like that which took place 
before me. I cannot tell you how he shrieked, or what vistas of unvisitable hells 
gleamed for a second in black eyes crazed with fright. I can only say that I 
fainted, and did not stir till he himself recovered and shook me in his phrensy for 
someone to keep away the horror and desolation. 



201 



That was the end of our voluntary searchings in the caverns of dream. Awed, 
shaken, and portentous, my friend who had been beyond the barrier warned me 
that we must never venture within those realms again. What he had seen, he 
dared not tell me; but he said from his wisdom that we must sleep as little as 
possible, even if drugs were necessary to keep us awake. That he was right, I 
soon learned from the unutterable fear which engulfed me whenever 
consciousness lapsed. 

After each short and inevitable sleep I seemed older, whilst my friend aged with 
a rapidity almost shocking. It is hideous to see wrinkles form and hair whiten 
almost before one's eyes. Our mode of life was now totally altered. Heretofore a 
recluse so far as I know - his true name and origin never having passed his lips - 
my friend now became frantic in his fear of solitude. At night he would not be 
alone, nor would the company of a few persons calm him. His sole relief was 
obtained in revelry of the most general and boisterous sort; so that few 
assemblies of the young and gay were unknown to us. 

Our appearance and age seemed to excite in most cases a ridicule which I keenly 
resented, but which my friend considered a lesser evil than solitude. Especially 
was he afraid to be out of doors alone when the stars were shining, and if forced 
to this condition he would often glance furtively at the sky as if hunted by some 
monstrous thing therein. He did not always glance at the same place in the sky - 
it seemed to be a different place at different times. On spring evenings it would 
be low in the northeast. In the summer it would be nearly overhead. In the 
autumn it would be in the northwest. In winter it would be in the east, but 
mostly if in the small hours of morning. 

Midwinter evenings seemed least dreadful to him. Only after two years did I 
connect this fear with anything in particular; but then I began to see that he must 
be looking at a special spot on the celestial vault whose position at different 
times corresponded to the direction of his glance - a spot roughly marked by the 
constellation Corona Borealis. 

We now had a studio in London, never separating, but never discussing the days 
when we had sought to plumb the mysteries of the unreal world. We were aged 
and weak from our drugs, dissipations, and nervous overstrain, and the thinning 
hair and beard of my friend had become snow-white. Our freedom from long 
sleep was surprising, for seldom did we succumb more than an hour or two at a 
time to the shadow which had now grown so frightful a menace. 

Then came one January of fog and rain, when money ran low and drugs were 
hard to buy. My statues and ivory heads were all sold, and I had no means to 
purchase new materials, or energy to fashion them even had I possessed them. 



202 



We suffered terribly, and on a certain night my friend sank into a deep-breathing 
sleep from which I could not awaken him. I can recall the scene now - the 
desolate, pitch-black garret studio under the eaves with the rain beating down; 
the ticking of our lone clock; the fancied ticking of our watches as they rested on 
the dressing-table; the creaking of some swaying shutter in a remote part of the 
house; certain distant city noises muffled by fog and space; and, worst of all, the 
deep, steady, sinister breathing of my friend on the couch - a rhythmical 
breathing which seemed to measure moments of supernal fear and agony for his 
spirit as it wandered in spheres forbidden, unimagined, and hideously remote. 

The tension of my vigil became oppressive, and a wild train of trivial 
impressions and associations thronged through my almost unhinged mind. I 
heard a clock strike somewhere - not ours, for that was not a striking clock - and 
my morbid fancy found in this a new starting-point for idle wanderings. Clocks - 
time - space - infinity - and then my fancy reverted to the locale as I reflected that 
even now, beyond the roof and the fog and the rain and the atmosphere. Corona 
Borealis was rising in the northeast. Corona Borealis, which my friend had 
appeared to dread, and whose scintillant semicircle of stars must even now be 
glowing unseen through the measureless abysses of aether. All at once my 
feverishly sensitive ears seemed to detect a new and wholly distinct component 
in the soft medley of drug-magnified sounds - a low and damnably insistent 
whine from very far away; droning, clamoring, mocking, calling, from the 
northeast. 

But it was not that distant whine which robbed me of my faculties and set upon 
my soul such a seal of fright as may never in life be removed; not that which 
drew the shrieks and excited the convulsions which caused lodgers and police to 
break down the door. It was not what I heard, but what I saw; for in that dark, 
locked, shuttered, and curtained room there appeared from the black northeast 
corner a shaft of horrible red-gold light - a shaft which bore with it no glow to 
disperse the darkness, but which streamed only upon the recumbent head of the 
troubled sleeper, bringing out in hideous duplication the luminous and strangely 
youthful memory-face as I had known it in dreams of abysmal space and 
unshackled time, when my friend had pushed behind the barrier to those secret, 
innermost and forbidden caverns of nightmare. 

And as I looked, I beheld the head rise, the black, liquid, and deep-sunken eyes 
open in terror, and the thin, shadowed lips part as if for a scream too frightful to 
be uttered. There dwelt in that ghastly and flexible face, as it shone bodiless, 
luminous, and rejuvenated in the blackness, more of stark, teeming, brain- 
shattering fear than all the rest of heaven and earth has ever revealed to me. 



203 



No word was spoken amidst the distant sound that grew nearer and nearer, but 
as I followed the memory- face's mad stare along that cursed shaft of light to its 
source, the source whence also the whining came, I, too, saw for an instant what 
it saw, and fell with ringing ears in that fit of shrieking epilepsy which brought 
the lodgers and the police. Never could I tell, try as I might, what it actually was 
that I saw; nor could the still face tell, for although it must have seen more than I 
did, it will never speak again. But always I shall guard against the mocking and 
insatiate Hypnos, lord of sleep, against the night sky, and against the mad 
ambitions of knowledge and philosophy. 

Just what happened is unknown, for not only was my own mind unseated by the 
strange and hideous thing, but others were tainted with a forgetfulness which 
can mean nothing if not madness. They have said, I know not for what reason, 
that I never had a friend; but that art, philosophy, and insanity had filled all my 
tragic life. The lodgers and police on that night soothed me, and the doctor 
administered something to quiet me, nor did anyone see what a nightmare event 
had taken place. My stricken friend moved them to no pity, but what they found 
on the couch in the studio made them give me a praise which sickened me, and 
now a fame which I spurn in despair as I sit for hours, bald, gray-bearded, 
shriveled, palsied, drug-crazed, and broken, adoring and praying to the object 
they found. 

For they deny that I sold the last of my statuary, and point with ecstasy at the 
thing which the shining shaft of light left cold, petrified, and unvocal. It is all that 
remains of my friend; the friend who led me on to madness and wreckage; a 
godlike head of such marble as only old Hellas could yield, young with the 
youth that is outside time, and with beauteous bearded face, curved, smiling lips, 
Olympian brow, and dense locks waving and poppy-crowned. They say that that 
haunting memory-face is modeled from my own, as it was at twenty-five; but 
upon the marble base is carven a single name in the letters of Attica - HYPNOS. 



204 



Ibid 

" . . .as Ibid says in his famous Lives of the Poets." 

- From a student theme. 

The erroneous idea that Ibid is the author of the Lives is so frequently met with, 
even among those pretending to a degree of cuhure, that it is worth correcting. It 
should be a matter of general knowledge that Cf. is responsible for this work. 
Ibid's masterpiece, on the other hand, was the famous Op. Cit. wherein all the 
significant undercurrents of Graeco-Roman expression were crystallised once for 
all - and with admirable acuteness, notwithstanding the surprisingly late date at 
which Ibid wrote. There is a false report - very commonly reproduced in modern 
books prior to Von Schweinkopf's monumental Geschichte der Ostrogothen in 
Italien - that Ibid was a Romanised Visigoth of Ataulf's horde who settled in 
Placentia about 410 A. D. The contrary cannot be too strongly emphasised; for 
Von Schweinkopf, and since his time Littlewitl and Betenoir,2 have shewn with 
irrefutable force that this strikingly isolated figure was a genuine Roman - or at 
least as genuine a Roman as that degenerate and mongrelised age could produce 

- of whom one might well say what Gibbon said of Boethius, "that he was the 
last whom Cato or Tully could have acknowledged for their countryman." He 
was, like Boethius and nearly all the eminent men of his age, of the great Anician 
family, and traced his genealogy with much exactitude and self-satisfaction to all 
the heroes of the republic. His full name - long and pompous according to the 
custom of an age which had lost the trinomial simplicity of classic Roman 
nomenclature - is stated by Von Schweinkopf3 to have been Caius Anicius 
Magnus Furius Camillus Aemilianus Cornelius Valerius Pompeius Julius Ibidus; 
though Littlewit4 rejects Aemilianus and adds Claudius Deciusfunianus; whilst 
BetenoirS differs radically, giving the full name as Magnus Furius Camillus 
Aurelius Antoninus Flavins Anicius Petronius Valentinianus Aegidus Ibidus. 

The eminent critic and biographer was born in the year 486, shortly after the 
extinction of the Roman rule in Gaul by Clovis. Rome and Ravenna are rivals for 
the honour of his birth, though it is certain that he received his rhetorical and 
philosophical training in the schools of Athens - the extent of whose suppression 
by Theodosius a century before is grossly exaggerated by the superficial. In 512, 
under the benign rule of the Ostrogoth Theodoric, we behold him as a teacher of 
rhetoric at Rome, and in 516 he held the consulship together with Pompilius 
Numantius Bombastes Marcellinus Deodamnatus. Upon the death of Theodoric 
in 526, Ibidus retired from public life to compose his celebrated work (whose 
pure Ciceronian style is as remarkable a case of classic atavism as is the verse of 
Claudius Claudianus, who flourished a century before Ibidus); but he was later 



205 



recalled to scenes of pomp to act as court rhetorician for Theodatus, nephew of 
Theodoric. 

Upon the usurpation of Vitiges, Ibidus fell into disgrace and was for a time 
imprisoned; but the coming of the Byzantine-Roman army under Belisarius soon 
restored him to liberty and honours. Throughout the siege of Rome he served 
bravely in the army of the defenders, and afterward followed the eagles of 
Belisarius to Alba, Porto, and Centumcellae. After the Prankish siege of Milan, 
Ibidus was chosen to accompany the learned Bishop Datius to Greece, and 
resided with him at Corinth in the year 539. About 541 he removed to 
Constantinopolis, where he received every mark of imperial favour both from 
Justinianus and Justinus the Second. The Pmperors Tiberius and Maurice did 
kindly honour to his old age, and contributed much to his immortality - 
especially Maurice, whose delight it was to trace his ancestry to old Rome 
notwithstanding his birth at Arabiscus, in Cappadocia. It was Maurice who, in 
the poet's 101st year, secured the adoption of his work as a textbook in the 
schools of the empire, an honour which proved a fatal tax on the aged 
rhetorician's emotions, since he passed away peacefully at his home near the 
church of St. Sophia on the sixth day before the Kalends of September, A. D. 587, 
in the 102nd year of his age. 

His remains, notwithstanding the troubled state of Italy, were taken to Ravenna 
for interment; but being interred in the suburb of Classe, were exhumed and 
ridiculed by the Lombard Duke of Spoleto, who took his skull to King Autharis 
for use as a wassail-bowl. Ibid's skull was proudly handed down from king to 
king of the Lombard line. Upon the capture of Pavia by Charlemagne in 774, the 
skull was seized from the tottering Desiderius and carried in the train of the 
Prankish conqueror. It was from this vessel, indeed, that Pope Leo administered 
the royal unction which made of the hero-nomad a Holy Roman Pmperor. 
Charlemagne took Ibid's skull to his capital at Aix, soon after- ward presenting it 
to his Saxon teacher Alcuin, upon whose death in 804 it was sent to Alcuin's 
kinsfolk in Pngland. 

William the Conqueror, finding it in an abbey niche where the pious family of 
Alcuin had placed it (believing it to be the skull of a saint6 who had miraculously 
annihilated the Lombards by his prayers), did reverence to its osseous antiquity; 
and even the rough soldiers of Cromwell, upon destroying Ballylough Abbey in 
Ireland in 1650 (it having been secretly transported thither by a devout Papist in 
1539, upon Henry VII's dissolution of the English monasteries), declined to offer 
violence to a relic so venerable. 

It was captured by the private soldier Read-'em-and-Weep Hopkins, who not 
long after traded it to Rest- in-Jehovah Stubbs for a quid of new Virginia weed. 



206 



Stubbs, upon sending forth his son Zerubbabel to seek his fortune in New 
England in 1661 (for he thought ill of the Restoration atmosphere for a pious 
young yeoman), gave him St. Ibid's - or rather Brother Ibid's, for he abhorred all 
that was Popish - skull as a talisman. Upon landing in Salem Zerubbabel set it up 
in his cupboard beside the chimney, he having built a modest house near the 
town pump. However, he had not been wholly unaffected by the Restoration 
influence; and having become addicted to gaming, lost the skull to one Epenetus 
Dexter, a visiting freeman of Providence. 

It was in the house of Dexter, in the northern part of the town near the present 
intersection of North Main and Olney Streets, on the occasion of Canonchet's 
raid of March 30, 1676, during King Philip's War; and the astute sachem, 
recognising it at once as a thing of singular venerableness and dignity, sent it as a 
symbol of alliance to a faction of the Pequots in Connecticut with whom he was 
negotiating. On April 4 he was captured by the colonists and soon after executed, 
but the austere head of Ibid continued on its wanderings. 

The Pequots, enfeebled by a previous war, could give the now stricken 
Narragansetts no assistance; and in 1680 a Dutch furtrader of Albany, Petrus van 
Schaack, secured the distinguished cranium for the modest sum of two guilders, 
he having recognised its value from the half-effaced inscription carved in 
Lombardic minuscules (palaeography, it might be explained, was one of the 
leading accomplishments of New-Netherland fur-traders of the seventeenth 
century). 

From van Schaack, sad to say, the relic was stolen in 1683 by a French trader, 
Jean Grenier, whose Popish zeal recognised the features of one whom he had 
been taught at his mother's knee to revere as St. Ibide. Grenier, fired with 
virtuous rage at the possession of this holy symbol by a Protestant, crushed van 
Schaack's head one night with an axe and escaped to the north with his booty; 
soon, however, being robbed and slain by the half-breed voyageur Michel 
Savard, who took the skull - despite the illiteracy which prevented his 
recognising it - to add to a collection of similar but more recent material. 

Upon his death in 1701 his half-breed son Pierre traded it among other things to 
some emissaries of the Sacs and Foxes, and it was found outside the chief's tepee 
a generation later by Charles de Langlade, founder of the trading post at Green 
Bay, Wisconsin. De Langlade regarded this sacred object with proper veneration 
and ransomed it at the expense of many glass beads; yet after his time it found 
itself in many other hands, being traded to settlements at the head of Lake 
Winnebago, to tribes around Lake Mendota, and finally, early in the nineteenth 
century, to one Solomon Juneau, a Frenchman, at the new trading post of 
Milwaukee on the Menominee River and the shore of Lake Michigan. 



207 



Later traded to Jacques Caboche, another settler, it was in 1850 lost in a game of 
chess or poker to a newcomer named Hans Zimmerman; being used by him as a 
beer-stein until one day, under the spell of its contents, he suffered it to roll from 
his front stoop to the prairie path before his home - where, falling into the 
burrow of a prairie-dog, it passed beyond his power of discovery or recovery 
upon his awaking. 

So for generations did the sainted skull of Caius Anicius Magnus Furius 
Camillus Aemilianus Cornelius Valerius Pompeius Julius Ibidus, consul of 
Rome, favourite of emperors, and saint of the Romish church, lie hidden beneath 
the soil of a growing town. At first worshipped with dark rites by the prairie- 
dogs, who saw in it a deity sent from the upper world, it afterward fell into dire 
neglect as the race of simple, artless burrowers succumbed before the onslaught 
of the conquering Aryan. Sewers came, but they passed by it. Houses went up - 
2303 of them, and more - and at last one fateful night a titan thing occurred. 
Subtle Nature, convulsed with a spiritual ecstasy, like the froth of that region's 
quondam beverage, laid low the lofty and heaved high the humble - and behold! 
In the roseal dawn the burghers of Milwaukee rose to find a former prairie 
turned to a highland! Vast and far-reaching was the great upheaval. Subterrene 
arcana, hidden for years, came at last to the light. For there, full in the rifted 
roadway, lay bleached and tranquil in bland, saintly, and consular pomp the 
dome-like skull of Ibid! 

[Notes] 

1 Rome and Byzantium: A Study in Survival (Waukesha, 1869), Vol. XX, p. 598. 2 
Influences Romains clans le Moyen Age (Fond du Lac, 1877), Vol. XV, p. 720. 
3Following Procopius, Goth, x.y.z. 4Following Jornandes, Codex Murat. xxj. 
4144. 5After Pagi, 50-50. 6Not till the appearance of von Schweinkopf's work in 
1797 were St. Ibid and the rhetorician properly re- identified. 



208 



Imprisoned with the Pharaos 

Written in March of 1924 

Published in May of 1924 in Weird Tales 

Mystery attracts mystery. Ever since the wide appearance of my name as a 
performer of unexplained feats, I have encountered strange narratives and events 
which my calling has led people to link with my interests and activities. Some of 
these have been trivial and irrelevant, some deeply dramatic and absorbing, 
some productive of weird and perilous experiences and some involving me in 
extensive scientific and historical research. Many of these matters I have told and 
shall continue to tell very freely; but there is one of which I speak with great 
reluctance, and which I am now relating only after a session of grilling 
persuasion from the publishers of this magazine, who had heard vague rumors 
of it from other members of my family. 

The hitherto guarded subject pertains to my non-professional visit to Egypt 
fourteen years ago, and has been avoided by me for several reasons. For one 
thing, I am averse to exploiting certain unmistakably actual facts and conditions 
obviously unknown to the myriad tourists who throng about the pyramids and 
apparently secreted with much diligence by the authorities at Cairo, who cannot 
be wholly ignorant of them. For another thing, I dislike to recount an incident in 
which my own fantastic imagination must have played so great a part. What I 
saw - or thought I saw - certainly did not take place; but is rather to be viewed as 
a result of my then recent readings in Egyptology, and of the speculations anent 
this theme which my environment naturally prompted. These imaginative 
stimuli, magnified by the excitement of an actual event terrible enough in itself, 
undoubtedly gave rise to the culminating horror of that grotesque night so long 
past. 

In January, 1910, I had finished a professional engagement in England and 
signed a contract for a tour of Australian theatres. A liberal time being allowed 
for the trip, I determined to make the most of it in the sort of travel which chiefly 
interests me; so accompanied by my wife I drifted pleasantly down the Continent 
and embarked at Marseilles on the P & O Steamer Malwa, bound for Port Said. 
From that point I proposed to visit the principal historical localities of lower 
Egypt before leaving finally for Australia. 

The voyage was an agreeable one, and enlivened by many of the amusing 
incidents which befall a magical performer apart from his work. I had intended, 
for the sake of quiet travel, to keep my name a secret; but was goaded into 



209 



betraying myself by a fellow-magician whose anxiety to astound the passengers 
with ordinary tricks tempted me to duplicate and exceed his feats in a manner 
quite destructive of my incognito. I mention this because of its ultimate effect - an 
effect I should have foreseen before unmasking to a shipload of tourists about to 
scatter throughout the Nile valley. What it did was to herald my identity 
wherever I subsequently went, and deprive my wife and me of all the placid 
inconspicuousness we had sought. Traveling to seek curiosities, I was often 
forced to stand inspection as a sort of curiosity myself! 

We had come to Egypt in search of the picturesque and the mystically 
impressive, but found little enough when the ship edged up to Port Said and 
discharged its passengers in small boats. Low dunes of sand, bobbing buoys in 
shallow water, and a drearily European small town with nothing of interest save 
the great De Lesseps statue, made us anxious to get to something more worth 
our while. After some discussion we decided to proceed at once to Cairo and the 
Pyramids, later going to Alexandria for the Australian boat and for whatever 
Greco-Roman sights that ancient metropolis might present. 

The railway journey was tolerable enough, and con sumed only four hours and a 
half. We saw much of the Suez Canal, whose route we followed as far as 
Ismailiya and later had a taste of Old Egypt in our glimpse of the restored fresh- 
water canal of the Middle Empire. Then at last we saw Cairo glimmering 
through the growing dusk; a winkling constellation which became a blaze as we 
halted at the great Care Centrale. 

But once more disappointment awaited us, for all that we beheld was European 
save the costumes and the crowds. A prosaic subway led to a square teeming 
with carriages, taxicabs, and trolley-cars and gorgeous with electric lights 
shining on tall buildings; whilst the very theatre where I was vainly requested to 
play and which I later attended as a spectator, had recently been renamed the 
'American Cosmograph'. We stopped at Shepheard's Hotel, reached in a taxi that 
sped along broad, smartly built-up streets; and amidst the perfect service of its 
restaurant, elevators and generally Anglo-American luxuries the mysterious East 
and immemorial past seemed very far away. 

The next day, however, precipitated us delightfully into the heart of the Arabian 
Nights atmosphere; and in the winding ways and exotic skyline of Cairo, the 
Bagdad of Harun-al-Rashid seemed to live again. Guided by our Baedeker, we 
had struck east past the Ezbekiyeh Gardens along the Mouski in quest of the 
native quarter, and were soon in the hands of a clamorous cicerone who - 
notwith standing later developments - was assuredly a master at his trade. 



210 



Not until afterward did I see that I should have applied at the hotel for a licensed 
guide. This man, a shaven, peculiarly hollow-voiced and relatively cleanly fellow 
who looked like a Pharaoh and called himself 'Abdul Reis el Drogman' appeared 
to have much power over others of his kind; though subsequently the police 
professed not to know him, and to suggest that reis is merely a name for any 
person in authority, whilst 'Drogman' is obviously no more than a clumsy 
modification of the word for a leader of tourist parties - dragoman. 

Abdul led us among such wonders as we had before only read and dreamed of. 
Old Cairo is itself a story-book and a dream - labyrinths of narrow alleys 
redolent of aromatic secrets; Arabesque balconies and oriels nearly meeting 
above the cobbled streets; maelstroms of Oriental traffic with strange cries, 
cracking whips, rattling carts, jingling money, and braying donkeys; 
kaleidoscopes of polychrome robes, veils, turbans, and tarbushes; water-carriers 
and dervishes, dogs and cats, soothsayers and barbers; and over all the whining 
of blind beggars crouched in alcoves, and the sonorous chanting of muezzins 
from minarets limned delicately against a sky of deep, unchanging blue. 

The roofed, quieter bazaars were hardly less alluring. Spice, perfume, incense 
beads, rugs, silks, and brass - old Mahmoud Suleiman squats cross-legged 
amidst his gummy bottles while chattering youths pulverize mustard in the 
hoUowed-out capital of an ancient classic column - a Roman Corinthian, perhaps 
from neighboring Heliopolis, where Augustus stationed one of his three 
Egyptian legions. Antiquity begins to mingle with exoticism. And then the 
mosques and the museum - we saw them all, and tried not to let our Arabian 
revel succumb to the darker charm of Pharaonic Egypt which the museum's 
priceless treasures offered. That was to be our climax, and for the present we 
concentrated on the mediaeval Saracenic glories of the Califs whose magnificent 
tomb-mosques form a glittering faery necropolis on the edge of the Arabian 
Desert. 

At length Abdul took us along the Sharia Mohammed Ali to the ancient mosque 
of Sultan Hassan, and the tower-flanked Babel-Azab, beyond which climbs the 
steep-walled pass to the mighty citadel that Saladin himself built with the stones 
of forgotten pyramids. It was sunset when we scaled that cliff, circled the 
modern mosque of Mohammed Ali, and looked down from the dizzy parapet 
over mystic Cairo - mystic Cairo all golden with its carven domes, its ethereal 
minarets and its flaming gardens. 

Far over the city towered the great Roman dome of the new museum; and 
beyond it - across the cryptic yellow Nile that is the mother of eons and dynasties 
- lurked the menacing sands of the Libyan Desert, undulant and iridesc ent and 
evil with older arcana. 



211 



The red sun sank low, bringing the relentless chill of Egyptian dusk; and as it 
stood poised on the world's rim like that ancient god of Heliopolis - Re- 
Harakhte, the Horizon-Sun - we saw silhouetted against its vermeil holocaust the 
black outlines of the Pyramids of Gizeh - the palaeogean tombs there were hoary 
with a thousand years when Tut-Ankh-Amen mounted his golden throne in 
distant Thebes. Then we knew that we were done with Saracen Cairo, and that 
we must taste the deeper mysteries of primal Egypt - the black Kem of Re and 
Amen, Isis and Osiris. 

The next morning we visited the Pyramids, riding out in a Victoria across the 
island of Chizereh with its massive lebbakh trees, and the smaller English bridge 
to the western shore. Down the shore road we drove, between great rows of 
lebbakhs and past the vast Zoological Gardens to the suburb of Gizeh, where a 
new bridge to Cairo proper has since been built. Then, turning inland along the 
Sharia-el-Haram, we crossed a region of glassy canals and shabby native villages 
till before us loomed the objects of our quest, cleaving the mists of dawn and 
forming inverted replicas in the roadside pools. Forty centuries, as Napoleon had 
told his campaigners there, indeed looked down upon us. 

The road now rose abruptly, till we finally reached our place of transfer between 
the trolley station and the Mena House Hotel. Abdul Reis, who capably 
purchased our Pyramid tickets, seemed to have an understanding with the 
crowding, yelling and offensive Bedouins who inhabited a squalid mud village 
some distance away and pestiferously assailed every traveler; for he kept them 
very decently at bay and secured an excellent pair of camels for us, himself 
mounting a donkey and assigning the leadership of our animals to a group of 
men and boys more expensive than useful. The area to be traversed was so small 
that camels were hardly needed, but we did not regret adding to our experience 
this troublesome form of desert navigation. 

The pyramids stand on a high rock plateau, this group forming next to the 
northernmost of the series of regal and aristocratic cemeteries built in the 
neighborhood of the extinct capital Memphis, which lay on the same side of the 
Nile, somewhat south of Gizeh, and which flourished between 3400 and 2000 
B.C. The greatest pyramid, which lies nearest the modern road, was built by King 
Cheops or Khufu about 2800 B.C., and stands more than 450 feet in 
perpendicular height. In a line southwest from this are successively the Second 
Pyramid, built a generation later by King Khephren, and though slightly smaller, 
looking even larger because set on higher ground, and the radically smaller 
Third Pyramid of King Mycerinus, built about 2700 B.C. Near the edge of the 
plateau and due east of the Second Pyramid, with a face probably altered to form 
a colossal portrait of Khephren, its royal restorer, stands the monstrous Sphinx - 
mute, sardonic, and wise beyond mankind and memory. 



212 



Minor pyramids and the traces of ruined minor pyramids are found in several 
places, and the whole plateau is pitted with the tombs of dignitaries of less than 
royal rank. These latter were originally marked by mastabas, or stone bench- like 
structures about the deep burial shafts, as found in other Memphian cemeteries 
and exemplified by Perneb's Tomb in the Metropolitan Museum of New York. 
At Gizeb, however, all such visible things have been swept away by time and 
pillage; and only the rock-hewn shafts, either sand-filled or cleared out by 
archaeologists, remain to attest their former existence. Connected with each tomb 
was a chapel in which priests and relatives offered food and prayer to the 
hovering ka or vital principle of the deceased. The small tombs have their 
chapels contained in their stone mastabas or superstructures, but the mortuary 
chapels of the pyramids, where regal Pharaohs lay, were separate temples, each 
to the east of its corresponding pyramid, and connec ted by a causeway to a 
massive gate-chapel or propylon at the edge of the rock plateau. 

The gate-chapel leading to the Second Pyramid, nearly buried in the drifting 
sands, yawns subterraneously south-east of the Sphinx. Persistent tradition dubs 
it the 'Temple of the Sphinx'; and it may perhaps be rightly called such if the 
Sphinx indeed represents the Second Pyramid's builder Khephren. There are 
unpleasant tales of the Sphinx before Khephren - but whatever its elder features 
were, the monarch replaced them with his own that men might look at the 
colossus without fear. 

It was in the great gateway-temple that the life-size diorite statue of Khephren 
now in the Cairo museum was found; a statue before which I stood in awe when 
I beheld it. Whether the whole edifice is now excavated I am not certain, but in 
1910 most of it was below ground, with the entrance heavily barred at night. 
Germans were in charge of the work, and the war or other things may have 
stopped them. I would give much, in view of my experience and of certain 
Bedouin whisperings discredited or unknown in Cairo, to know what has 
developed in connection with a certain well in a transverse gallery where statues 
of the Pharaoh were found in curious juxtaposition to the statues of baboons. 

The road, as we traversed it on our camels that morning, curved sharply past the 
wooden police quarters, post office, drug store and shops on the left, and 
plunged south and east in a complete bend that scaled the rock plateau and 
brought us face to face with the desert under the lee of the Great Pyramid. Past 
Cyclopean masonry we rode, rounding the eastern face and looking down ahead 
into a valley of minor pyramids beyond which the eternal Nile glistened to the 
east, and the eternal desert shimmered to the west. Very close loomed the three 
major pyramids, the greatest devoid of outer casing and showing its bulk of 
great stones, but the others retaining here and there the neatly fitted covering 
which had made them smooth and finished in their day. 



213 



Presently we descended toward the Sphinx, and sat silent beneath the spell of 
those terrible unseeing eyes. On the vast stone breast we faintly discerned the 
emblem of Re-Harakhte, for whose image the Sphinx was mistaken in a late 
dynasty; and though sand covered the tablet between the great paws, we recalled 
what Thutmosis IV inscribed thereon, and the dream he had when a prince. It 
was then that the smile of the Sphinx vaguely displeased us, and made us 
wonder about the legends of subterranean pas sages beneath the monstrous 
creature, leading down, down, to depths none might dare hint at - depths 
connected with mysteries older than the dynastic Egypt we excavate, and having 
a sinister relation to the persistence of abnormal, animal-headed gods in the 
ancient Nilotic pantheon. Then, too, it was I asked myself in idle question whose 
hideous significance was not to appear for many an hour. 

Other tourists now began to overtake us, and we moved on to the sand-choked 
Temple of the Sphinx, fifty yards to the southeast, which I have previously 
mentioned as the great gate of the causeway to the Second Pyramid's mortuary 
chapel on the plateau. Most of it was still underground, and although we 
dismounted and descended through a modern passageway to its alabaster 
corridor and pillared hall, I felt that Adul and the local German attendant had 
not shown us all there was to see. 

After this we made the conventional circuit of the pyramid plateau, examining 
the Second Pyramid and the peculiar ruins of its mortuary chapel to the east, the 
Third Pyramid and its miniature southern satellites and ruined eastern chapel, 
the rock tombs and the honeycombings of the Fourth and Fifth dynasties, and the 
famous Campbell's Tomb whose shadowy shaft sinks precipitously for fifty- 
three feet to a sinister sarcophagus which one of our camel drivers divested of 
the cumbering sand after a vertiginous descent by rope. 

Cries now assailed us from the Great Pyramid, where Bedouins were besieging a 
party of tourists with offers of speed in the performance of solitary trips up and 
down. Seven minutes is said to be the record for such an ascent and descent, but 
many lusty sheiks and sons of sheiks assured us they could cut it to five if given 
the requisite impetus of liberal baksheesh. They did not get this impetus, though 
we did let Abdul take us up, thus obtaining a view of unprecedented 
magnificence which included not only remote and glittering Cairo with its 
crowned citadel back ground of gold-violet hills, but all the pyramids of the 
Memphian district as well, from Abu Roash on the north to the Dashur on the 
south. The Sakkara step-pyramid, which marks the evolution of the low mastaba 
into the true pyramid, showed clearly and alluringly in the sandy distance. It is 
close to this transition-monument that the famed :omb of Perneb was found - 
more than four hundred miles orth of the Theban rock valley where Tut-Ankh- 
Amen sleeps. Again I was forced to silence through sheer awe. The prospect of 



214 



such antiquity, and the secrets each hoary monument seemed to hold and brood 
over, filled me with a reverence and sense of immensity nothing else ever gave 
me. 

Fatigued by our climb, and disgusted with the importunate Bedouins whose 
actions seemed to defy every rule of taste, we omitted the arduous detail of 
entering the cramped interior passages of any of the pyramids, though we saw 
several of the hardiest tourists preparing for the suffocating crawl through 
Cheops' mightiest memorial. As we dismissed and overpaid our local bodyguard 
and drove back to Cairo with Abdul Reis under the afternoon sun, we half 
regretted the omission we had made. Such fascinating things were whispered 
about lower pyramid pas sages not in the guide books; passages whose entrances 
had been hastily blocked up and concealed by certain uncommunicative 
archaeologists who had found and begun to explore them. 

Of course, this whispering was largely baseless on the face of it; but it was 
curious to reflect how persistently visitors were forbidden to enter the Pyramids 
at night, or to visit the lowest burrows and crypt of the Great Pyramid. Perhaps 
in the latter case it was the psychological effect which was feared - the effect on 
the visitor of feeling himself huddled down beneath a gigantic world of solid 
masonry; joined to the life he has known by the merest tube, in which he may 
only crawl, and which any accident or evil design might block. The whole subject 
seemed so weird and alluring that we resolved to pay the pyramid plateau 
another visit at the earliest possible opportun ity. For me this opportunity came 
much earlier than I expected. 

That evening, the members of our party feeling some what tired after the 
strenuous program of the day, I went alone with Abdul Reis for a walk through 
the picturesque Arab quarter. Though I had seen it by day, I wished to study the 
alleys and bazaars in the dusk, when rich shadows and mellow gleams of light 
would add to their glamor and fantastic illusion. The native crowds were 
thinning, but were still very noisy and numerous when we came upon a knot of 
reveling Bedouins in the Suken-Nahhasin, or bazaar of the coppersmiths. Their 
apparent leader, an insolent youth with heavy features and saucily cocked 
tarbush, took some notice of us, and evidently recognized with no great 
friendliness my competent but admittedly supercilious and sneeringly disposed 
guide. 

Perhaps, I thought, he resented that odd reproduction of the Sphinx's half-smile 
which I had often remarked with amused irritation; or perhaps he did not like 
the hollow and sepulchral resonance of Abdul's voice. At any rate, the exchange 
of ancestrally opprobrious language became very brisk; and before long Ali Ziz, 
as I heard the stranger called when called by no worse name, began to pull 



215 



violently at Abdul's robe, an action quickly reciprocated and leading to a spirited 
scuffle in which both combatants lost their sacredly cherished headgear and 
would have reached an even direr condition had I not intervened and separated 
them by main force. 

My interference, at first seemingly unwelcome on both sides, succeeded at last in 
effecting a truce. Sullenly each belligerent composed his wrath and his attire, and 
with an assumption of dignity as profound as it was sudden, the two formed a 
curious pact of honor which I soon learned is a custom of great antiquity in Cairo 
- a pact for the settle ment of their difference by means of a nocturnal fist fight 
atop the Great Pyramid, long after the departure of the last moon light sightseer. 
Each duelist was to assemble a party of seconds, and the affair was to begin at 
midnight, proceeding by rounds in the most civilized possible fashion. 

In all this planning there was much which excited my interest. The fight itself 
promised to be unique and spectacular, while the thought of the scene on that 
hoary pile overlooking the antediluvian plateau of Gizeh under the wan moon of 
the pallid small hours appealed to every fiber of imagination in me. A request 
found Abdul exceedingly willing to admit me to his party of seconds; so that all 
the rest of the early evening I accompanied him to various dens in the most 
lawless regions of the town - mostly northeast of the Ezbekiyeh - where he 
gathered one by one a select and formidable band of congenial cutthroats as his 
pugilistic background. 

Shortly after nine our party, mounted on donkeys bearing such royal or tourist- 
reminiscent names as 'Rameses,' 'Mark Twain,' 'J. P. Morgan,' and 'Minnehaha', 
edged through street labyrinths both Oriental and Occidental, crossed the 
muddy and mast-forested Nile by the bridge of the bronze lions, and cantered 
philosophically between the lebbakhs on the road to Gizeh. Slightly over two 
hours were consumed by the trip, toward the end of which we passed the last of 
the returning tourists, saluted the last inbound trolley-car, and were alone with 
the night and the past and the spectral moon. 

Then we saw the vast pyramids at the end of the avenue, ghoulish with a dim 
atavistical menace which I had not seemed to notice in the daytime. Even the 
smallest of them held a hint of the ghastly -for was it not in this that they had 
buried Queen Nitocris alive in the Sixth Dynasty; subtle Queen Nitocris, who 
once invited all her enemies to a feast in a temple below the Nile, and drowned 
them by opening the water-gates? I recalled that the Arabs whisper things about 
Nitocris, and shun the Third Pyramid at certain phases of the moon. It must have 
been over her that Thomas Moore was brooding when he wrote a thing muttered 
about by Memphian boatmen: 



216 



'The subterranean nymph that dwells 

'Mid sunless gems and glories hid 

The lady of the Pyramid!' 

Early as we were, Ali Ziz and his party were ahead of us; for we saw their 
donkeys outlined against the desert plateau at Kafrel-Haram; toward which 
squalid Arab settlement, close to the Sphinx, we had diverged instead of 
following the regular road to the Mena House, where some of the sleepy, 
inefficient police might have observed and halted us. Here, where filthy 
Bedouins stabled camels and donkeys in the rock tombs of Khephren's courtiers, 
we were led up the rocks and over the sand to the Great Pyramid, up whose 
time-worn sides the Arabs swarmed eagerly, Abdul Reis offering me the 
assistance I did not need. 

As most travelers know, the actual apex of this structure has long been worn 
away, leaving a reasonably flat platform twelve yards square. On this eery 
pinnacle a squared circle was formed, and in a few moments the sardonic desert 
moon leered down upon a battle which, but for the quality of the ringside cries, 
might well have occurred at some minor athletic club in America. As I watched 
it, I felt that some of our less -desirable institutions were not lacking; for every 
blow, feint, and defense bespoke 'stalling' to my not inexperienced eye. It was 
quickly over, and despite my misgivings as to methods I felt a sort of proprietary 
pride when Abdul Reis was adjudged the winner. 

Reconciliation was phenomenally rapid, and amidst the singing, fraternizing and 
drinking that followed, I found it difficult to realize that a quarrel had ever 
occurred. Oddly enough, I myself seemed to be more a center of notice than the 
antagonists; and from my smattering of Arabic I judged that they were 
discussing my professional performances and escapes from every sort of manacle 
and confinement, in a manner which indicated not only a surprising knowledge 
of me, but a distinct hostility and skepticism concerning my feats of escape. It 
gradually dawned on me that the elder magic of Egypt did not depart without 
leaving traces, and that fragments of a strange secret lore and priestly cult 
practises have survived surreptitiously amongst the fella heen to such an extent 
that the prowess of a strange hahwi or magician is resented and disputed. I 
thought of how much my hollow-voiced guide Abdul Reis looked like an old 
Egyptian priest or Pharaoh or smiling Sphinx . . . and wondered. 

Suddenly something happened which in a flash proved the correctness of my 
reflections and made me curse the denseness whereby I had accepted this night's 
events as other than the empty and malicious 'frame-up' they now showed 
themselves to be. Without warning, and doubtless in answer to some subtle sign 
from Abdul, the entire band of Bedouins precipitated itself upon me; and having 



217 



produced heavy ropes, soon had me bound as securely as I was ever bound in 
the course of my Hfe, either on the stage or off. 

I struggled at first, but soon saw that one man could make no headway against a 
band of over twenty sinewy barbarians. My hands were tied behind my back, my 
knees bent to their fullest extent, and my wrists and ankles stoutly linked 
together with unyielding cords. A stifling gag was forced into my mouth, and a 
blindfold fastened tightly over my eyes. Then, as Arabs bore me aloft on their 
shoulders and began a jouncing descent of the pyramid, I heard the taunts of my 
late guide Abdul, who mocked and jeered delightedly in his hollow voice, and 
assured me that I was soon to have my 'magic -powers' put to a supreme test - 
which would quickly remove any egotism I might have gained through 
triumphing over all the tests offered by America and Europe. Egypt, he 
reminded me, is very old, and full of inner mysteries and antique powers not 
even conceivable to the experts of today, whose devices had so uniformly failed 
to entrap me. 

How far or in what direction I was carried, I cannot tell; for the circumstances 
were all against the formation of any accurate judgment. I know, however, that it 
could not have been a great distance; since my bearers at no point hastened 
beyond a walk, yet kept me aloft a surprisingly short time. It is this perplexing 
brevity which makes me feel almost like shuddering whenever I think of Gizeh 
and its plateau - for one is oppressed by hints of the closeness to everyday tourist 
routes of what existed then and must exist still. 

The evil abnormality I speak of did not become manifest at first. Setting me 
down on a surface which I recognized as sand rather than rock, my captors 
passed a rope around my chest and dragged me a few feet to a ragged opening in 
the ground, into which they presently lowered me with much rough handling. 
For apparent eons I bumped against the stony irregular sides of a narrow hewn 
well which I took to be one of the numerous burial-shafts of the plateau until the 
prodigious, almost incredible depth of it robbed me of all bases of conjecture. 

The horror of the experience deepened with every dragging second. That any 
descent through the sheer solid rock could be so vast without reaching the core 
of the planet itself, or that any rope made by man could be so long as to dangle 
me in these unholy and seemingly fathomless pro fundities of nether earth, were 
beliefs of such grotesqueness that it was easier to doubt my agitated senses than 
to accept them. Even now I am uncertain, for I know how deceitful the sense of 
time becomes when one is removed or distorted. But I am quite sure that I 
preserved a logical consciousness that far; that at least I did not add any 
fullgrown phantoms of imagination to a picture hideous enough in its reality, 
and explicable by a type of cerebral illusion vastly short of actual hallucination. 



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All this was not the cause of my first bit of fainting. The shocking ordeal was 
cumulative, and the beginning of the later terrors was a very perceptible increase 
in my rate of descent. They were paying out that infinitely long rope very swiftly 
now, and I scraped cruelly against the rough and constricted sides of the shaft as 
I shot madly downward. My clothing was in tatters, and I felt the trickle of blood 
all over, even above the mounting and excruciating pain. My nostrils, too, were 
assailed by a scarcely definable menace: a creeping odor of damp and staleness 
curiously unlike anything I had ever smelled before, and having faint overtones 
of spice and incense that lent an element of mockery. 

Then the mental cataclysm came. It was horrible - hideous beyond all articulate 
description because it was all of the soul, with nothing of detail to describe. It 
was the ecstasy of nightmare and the summation of the fiendish. The suddenness 
of it was apocalyptic and demoniac - one moment I was plunging agonizingly 
down that narrow well of million-toothed torture, yet the next moment I was 
soaring on bat-wings in the gulfs of hell; swinging free and swooping through 
illimitable miles of boundless, musty space; rising dizzily to measureless 
pinnacles of chilling ether, then diving gaspingly to sucking nadirs of ravenous, 
nauseous lower vacua ... Thank God for the mercy that shut out in oblivion 
those clawing Furies of consciousness which half unhinged my faculties, and tore 
harpy-like at my spirit! That one respite, short as it was, gave me the strength 
and sanity to endure those still greater sublima tions of cosmic panic that lurked 
and gibbered on the road ahead. 

II 

It was very gradually that I regained my senses after that eldritch flight through 
Stygian space. The process was infinitely painful, and colored by fantastic 
dreams in which my bound and gagged condition found singular embodiment. 
The precise nature of these dreams was very clear while I was experiencing 
them, but became blurred in my recollection almost immediately afterward, and 
was soon reduced to the merest outline by the terrible events - real or imaginary - 
which followed. I dreamed that I was in the grasp of a great and horrible paw; a 
yellow, hairy, five- clawed paw which had reached out of the earth to crush and 
engulf me. And when I stopped to reflect what the paw was, it seemed to me that 
it was Egypt. In the dream I looked back at the events of the preceding weeks, 
and saw myself lured and enmeshed little by little, subtly and insidiously, by 
some hellish ghoul-spirit of the elder Nile sorcery; some spirit that was in Egypt 
before ever man was, and that will be when man is no more. 

I saw the horror and unwholesome antiquity of Egypt, and the grisly alliance it 
has always had with the tombs and temples of the dead. I saw phantom 
processions of priests with the heads of bulls, falcons, cats, and ibises; phantom 
processions marching interminably through subterraneous labyrinths and 



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avenues of titanic propylaea beside which a man is as a fly, and offering 
unnamable sacrifice to indescribable gods. Stone colossi marched in endless 
night and drove herds of grinning androsphinxes down to the shores of 
illimitable stagnant rivers of pitch. And behind it all I saw the ineffable malignity 
of primordial necromancy, black and amorphous, and fumbling greedily after 
me in the darkness to choke out the spirit that had dared to mock it by 
emulation. 

In my sleeping brain there took shape a melodrama of sinister hatred and 
pursuit, and I saw the black soul of Egypt singling me out and calling me in 
inaudible whispers; calling and luring me, leading me on with the glitter and 
glamor of a Saracenic surface, but ever pulling me down to the age-mad 
catacombs and horrors of its dead and abysmal pharaonic heart. 

Then the dream faces took on human resemblances, and I saw my guide Abdul 
Reis in the robes of a king, with the sneer of the Sphinx on his features. And I 
knew that those features were the features of Khephren the Great, who raised the 
Second Pyramid, carved over the Sphinx's face in the likeness of his own and 
built that titanic gateway temple whose myriad corridors the archaeologists 
think they have dug out of the cryptical sand and the uninformative rock. And I 
looked at the long, lean rigid hand of Khephren; the long, lean, rigid hand as I 
had seen it on the diorite statue in the Cairo Museum - the statue they had found 
in the terrible gateway temple - and wondered that I had not shrieked when I 
saw it on Abdul Reis... That hand! It was hideously cold, and it was crushing 
me; it was the cold and cramping of the sarcophagus . . . the chill and constriction 
of unrememberable Egypt... It was nighted, necropolitan Egypt itself.., that 
yellow paw. .. and they whisper such things of Khephren. . . 

But at this juncture I began to wake - or at least, to assume a condition less 
completely that of sleep than the one just preceding. I recalled the fight atop the 
pyramid, the treacherous Bedouins and their attack, my frightful descent by rope 
through endless rock depths, and my mad swinging and plunging in a chill void 
redolent of aromatic putrescence. I perceived that I now lay on a damp rock 
floor, and that my bonds were still biting into me with unloosened force. It was 
very cold, and I seemed to detect a faint current of noisome air sweeping across 
me. The cuts and bruises I had received from the jagged sides of the rock shaft 
were paining me woefully, their soreness enhanced to a stinging or burning 
acuteness by some pungent quality in the faint draft, and the mere act of rolling 
over was enough to set my whole frame throbbing with untold agony. 

As I turned I felt a tug from above, and concluded that the rope whereby I was 
lowered still reached to the surface. Whether or not the Arabs still held it, I had 
no idea; nor had I any idea how far within the earth I was. I knew that the 



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darkness around me was wholly or nearly total, since no ray of moonlight 
penetrated my blindfold; but I did not trust my senses enough to accept as 
evidence of extreme depth the sensation of vast duration which had 
characterized my descent. 

Knowing at least that I was in a space of considerable extent reached from the 
above surface directly by an opening in the rock, I doubtfully conjectured that 
my prison was perhaps the buried gateway chapel of old Khephren - the Temple 
of the Sphinx - perhaps some inner corridors which the guides had not shown 
me during my morning visit, and from which I might easily escape if I could find 
my way to the barred entrance. It would be a labyrinthine wandering, but no 
worse than others out of which I had in the past found my way. 

The first step was to get free of my bonds, gag, and blindfold; and this I knew 
would be no great task, since subtler experts than these Arabs had tried every 
known species of fetter upon me during my long and varied career as an 
exponent of escape, yet had never succeeded in defeating my methods. 

Then it occurred to me that the Arabs might be ready to meet and attack me at 
the entrance upon any evidence of my probable escape from the binding cords, 
as would be furnished by any decided agitation of the rope which they probably 
held. This, of course, was taking for granted that my place of confinement was 
indeed Khephren's Temple of the Sphinx. The direct opening in the roof, 
wherever it might lurk, could not be beyond easy reach of the ordinary modern 
entrance near the Sphinx; if in truth it were any great distance at all on the 
surface, since the total area known to visitors is not at all enormous. I had not 
noticed any such opening during my daytime pilgrimage, but knew that these 
things are easily overlooked amidst the drifting sands. 

Thinking these matters over as I lay bent and bound on the rock floor, I nearly 
forgot the horrors of abysmal descent and cavernous swinging which had so 
lately reduced me to a coma. My present thought was only to outwit the Arabs, 
and I accordingly determined to work myself free as quickly as possible, 
avoiding any tug on the descending line which might betray an effective or even 
problematical attempt at freedom. 

This, however, was more easily determined than effected. A few preliminary 
trials made it clear that little could be accomplished without considerable 
motion; and it did not surprise me when, after one especially energetic struggle, I 
began to feel the coils of falling rope as they piled up about me and upon me. 
Obviously, I thought, the Bedouins had felt my movements and released their 
end of the rope; hastening no doubt to the temple's true entrance to lie 
murderously in wait for me. 



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The prospect was not pleasing - but I had faced worse in my time without 
flinching, and would not flinch now. At present I must first of all free myself of 
bonds, then trust to ingenuity to escape from the temple unharmed. It is curious 
how implicitly I had come to believe myself in the old temple of Khephren beside 
the Sphinx, only a short dis tance below the ground. 

That belief was shattered, and every pristine apprehen sion of preternattiral 
depth and demoniac mystery revived, by a circumstance which grew in horror 
and significance even as I formulated my philosophical plan. I have said that the 
falling rope was piling up about and upon me. Now I saw that it was continuing 
to pile, as no rope of normal length could possibly do. It gained in momentum 
and became an avalanche of hemp, accumulating moun tainously on the floor 
and half burying me beneath its swiftly multiplying coils. Soon I was completely 
engulfed and gasping for breath as the increasing convolutions submerged and 
stifled me. 

My senses tottered again, and I vaguely tried to fight off a menace desperate and 
ineluctable. It was not merely that I was tortured beyond human endurance - not 
merely that life and breath seemed to be crushed slowly out of me - it was the 
knowledge of what those unnatural lengths of rope implied, and the 
consciousness of what unknown and incalculable gulfs of inner earth must at this 
moment be surrounding me. My endless descent and swinging flight through 
goblin space, then, must have been real, and even now I must be lying helpless in 
some nameless cavern world toward the core of the planet. Such a sudden 
confirmation of ultimate horror was insupportable, and a second time I lapsed 
into merciful oblivion. 

When I say oblivion, I do not imply that I was free from dreams. On the contrary, 
my absence from the conscious world was marked by visions of the most 
unutterable hideousness. God! ... If only I had not read so much Egyptology 
before coming to this land which is the fountain of all darkness and terror! This 
second spell of fainting filled my sleeping mind anew with shivering realization 
of the country and its archaic secrets, and through some damnable chance my 
dreams turned to the ancient notions of the dead and their sojournings in soul 
and body beyond those mysterious tombs which were more houses than graves. 
I recalled, in dream-shapes which it is well that I do not remember, the peculiar 
and elaborate construction of Egyptian sepulchers; and the exceedingly singular 
and terrific doctrines which determined this construction. 

All these people thought of was death and the dead. They conceived of a literal 
resurrection of the body which made them mummify it with desperate care, and 
preserve all the vital organs in canopic jars near the corpse; whilst besides the 
body they believed in two other elements, the soul, which after its weighing and 



222 



approval by Osiris dwelt in the land of the blest, and the obscure and portentous 
ka or life-principle which wandered about the upper and lower worlds in a 
horrible way, demanding occasional access to the preserved body, consuming 
the food offerings brought by priests and pious relatives to the mortuary chapel, 
and sometimes - as men whispered - taking its body or the wooden double 
always buried beside it and stalking noxiously abroad on errands peculiarly 
repellent. 

For thousands of years those bodies rested gorgeously encased and staring 
glassily upward when not visited by the ka, awaiting the day when Osiris should 
restore both ka and soul, and lead forth the stiff legions of the dead from the 
sunken houses of sleep. It was to have been a glorious rebirth - but not all souls 
were approved, nor were all tombs inviolate, so that certain grotesque mistakes 
and fiendish abnormalities were to be looked for. Even today the Arabs murmur 
of unsanctified convocations and unwholesome worship in forgotten nether 
abysses, which only winged invisible kas and soulless mummies may visit and 
return unscathed. 

Perhaps the most leeringly blood-congealing legends are those which relate to 
certain perverse products of decadent priestcraft - composite mummies made by 
the artificial union of human trunks and limbs with the heads of animals in 
imitation of the elder gods. At all stages of history the sacred animals were 
mummified, so that consecrated bulls, cats, ibises, crocodiles and the like might 
return some day to greater glory. But only in the decadence did they mix the 
human and the animal in the same mummy - only in the decadence, when they 
did not understand the rights and prerogatives of the ka and the soul. 

What happened to those composite mummies is not told of- at least publicly - 
and it is certain that no Egyptologist ever found one. The whispers of Arabs are 
very wild, and cannot be relied upon. They even hint that old Khephren - he of 
the Sphinx, the Second Pyramid and the yawning gateway temple - lives far 
underground wedded to the ghoul-queen Nitocris and ruling over the mummies 
that are neither of man nor of beast. 

It was of these - of Khephren and his consort and his strange armies of the hybrid 
dead - that I dreamed, and that is why I am glad the exact dream-shapes have 
faded from my memory. My most horrible vision was connected with an idle 
question I had asked myself the day before when looking at the great carven 
riddle of the desert and wondering with what unknown depth the temple close 
to it might be secretly connected. That question, so innocent and whimsical then, 
assumed in my dream a meaning of frenetic and hysterical madness ... what 
huge and loathsome abnormality was the Sphinx originally carven to represent? 



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My second awakening - if awakening it was - is a memory of stark hideousness 
which nothing else in my Hfe - save one thing which came after - can parallel; 
and that life has been full and adventurous beyond most men's. Remember that I 
had lost consciousness whilst buried beneath a cascade of falling rope whose 
immensity revealed the cataclysmic depth of my present position. Now, as 
perception returned, I felt the entire weight gone; and realized upon rolling over 
that although I was still tied, gagged and blindfolded, some agency had removed 
completely the suffocating hempen landslide which had overwhelmed me. The 
significance of this condition, of course, came to me only gradually; but even so I 
think it would have brought unconsciousness again had I not by this time 
reached such a state of emotional exhaustion that no new horror could make 
much difference. I was alone. . . with what? 

Before I could torture myself with any new reflection, or make any fresh effort to 
escape from my bonds, an additional circumstance became manifest. Pains not 
formerly felt were racking my arms and legs, and I seemed coated with a 
profusion of dried blood beyond anything my former cuts and abrasions could 
furnish. My chest, too, seemed pierced by a hundred wounds, as though some 
malign, titanic ibis had been pecking at it. Assuredly the agency which had 
removed the rope was a hostile one, and had begun to wreak terrible injuries 
upon me when somehow impelled to desist. Yet at the same time my sensations 
were distinctly the reverse of what one might expect. Instead of sinking into a 
bottomless pit of despair, I was stirred to a new courage and action; for now I felt 
that the evil forces were physical things which a fearless man might encounter on 
an even basis. 

On the strength of this thought I tugged again at my bonds, and used all the art 
of a lifetime to free myself as I had so often done amidst the glare of lights and 
the applause of vast crowds. The familiar details of my escaping process 
commenced to engross me, and now that the long rope was gone I half regained 
my belief that the supreme horrors were hallucinations after all, and that there 
had never been any terrible shaft, measureless abyss or interminable rope. Was I 
after all in the gateway temple of Khephren beside the Sphinx, and had the 
sneaking Arabs stolen in to torture me as I lay helpless there? At any rate, I must 
be free. Let me stand up unbound, ungagged, and with eyes open to catch any 
glimmer of light which might come trickling from any source, and I could 
actually delight in the combat against evil and treacherous foes! 

How long I took in shaking off my encumbrances I cannot tell. It must have been 
longer than in my exhibition performances, because I was wounded, exhausted, 
and enervated by the experiences I had passed through. When I was finally free, 
and taking deep breaths of a chill, damp, evilly spiced air all the more horrible 
when encountered without the screen of gag and blindfold edges, I found that I 



224 



was too cramped and fatigued to move at once. There I lay, trying to stretch a 
frame bent and mangled, for an indefinite period, and straining my eyes to catch 
a glimpse of some ray of light which would give a hint as to my position. 

By degrees my strength and flexibility returned, but my eyes beheld nothing. As 
I staggered to my feet I peered diligently in every direction, yet met only an 
ebony blackness as great as that I had known when blindfolded. I tried my legs, 
blood-encrusted beneath my shredded trousers, and found that I could walk; yet 
could not decide in what direction to go. Obviously I ought not to walk at 
random, and perhaps retreat directly from the entrance I sought; so I paused to 
note the difference of the cold, fetid, natron-scented air-current which I had 
never ceased to feel. Accepting the point of its source as the possible entrance to 
the abyss, I strove to keep track of this landmark and to walk consistently toward 
it. 

I had a match-box with me, and even a small electric flashlight; but of course the 
pockets of my tossed and tattered clothing were long since emptied of all heavy 
articles. As I walked cautiously in the blackness, the draft grew stronger and 
more offensive, till at length I could regard it as nothing less than a tangible 
stream of detestable vapor pouring out of some aperture like the smoke of the 
genie from the fisherman's jar in the Eastern tale. The East . . . Egypt . . . truly, this 
dark cradle of civilization was ever the wellspring of horrors and marvels 
unspeakable! 

The more I reflected on the nature of this cavern wind, the greater my sense of 
disquiet became; for although despite its odor I had sought its source as at least 
an indirect clue to the outer world, I now saw plainly that this foul emanation 
could have no admixture or connection whatsoever with the clean air of the 
Libyan Desert, but must be essentially a thing vomited from sinister gulfs still 
lower down. I had, then, been walking in the wrong direction! 

After a moment's reflection I decided not to retrace my steps. Away from the 
draft I would have no landmarks, for the roughly level rock floor was devoid of 
distinctive configurations. If, however, I followed up the strange current, I would 
undoubtedly arrive at an aperture of some sort, from whose gate I could perhaps 
work round the walls to the opposite side of this Cyclopean and otherwise 
unnavigable hall. That I might fail, I well realized. I saw that this was no part of 
Khephren's gateway temple which tourists know, and it struck me that this 
particular hall might be unknown even to archaeologists, and merely stumbled 
upon by the inquisitive and malignant Arabs who had imprisoned me. If so, was 
there any present gate of escape to the known parts or to the outer air? 



225 



What evidence, indeed, did I now possess that this was the gateway temple at 
all? For a moment all my wildest speculations rushed back upon me, 'and I 
thought of that vivid melange of impressions - descent, suspension in space, the 
rope, my wounds, and the dreams that were frankly dreams. Was this the end of 
life for me? Or indeed, would it be merciful if this moment were the end? I could 
answer none of my own questions, but merely kept on, till Fate for a third time 
reduced me to oblivion. 

This time there were no dreams, for the suddenness of the incident shocked me 
out of all thought either conscious or subconscious. Tripping on an unexpected 
descending step at a point where the offensive draft became strong enough to 
offer an actual physical resistance, I was precipitated headlong down a black 
flight of huge stone stairs into a gulf of hideousness unrelieved. 

That I ever breathed again is a tribute to the inherent vitality of the healthy 
human organism. Often I look back to that night and feel a touch of actual humor 
in those repeated lapses of consciousness; lapses whose succession reminded me 
at the time of nothing more than the crude cinema melodramas of that period. Of 
course, it is possible that the repeated lapses never occurred; and that all the 
features of that underground nightmare were merely the dreams of one long 
coma which began with the shock of my descent into that abyss and ended with 
the healing balm of the outer air and of the rising sun which found me stretched 
on the sands of Gizeh before the sardonic and dawn-flushed face of the Great 
Sphinx. 

I prefer to believe this latter explanation as much as I can, hence was glad when 
the police told me that the barrier to Krephren's gateway temple had been found 
unfastened, and that a sizeable rift to the surface did actually exist in one corner 
of the still buried part. I was glad, too, when the doctors pronounced my wounds 
only those to be expected from my seizure, blindfolding, lowering, struggling 
with bonds, falling some distance - perhaps into a depression in the temple's 
inner gallery - dragging myself to the outer barrier and escaping from it, and 
experiences like that.., a very soothing diagnosis. And yet I know that there must 
be more than appears on the surface. That extreme descent is too vivid a memory 
to be dismissed - and it is odd that no one has ever been able to find a man 
answering the description of my guide, Abdul Reis el Drogman- the tomb- 
throated guide who looked and smiled like King Khephren. 

I have digressed from my connected narrative - perhaps in the vain hope of 
evading the telling of that final incident; that incident which of all is most 
certainly an hallucination. But I promised to relate it, and I do not break 
promises. When I recovered - or seemed to recover - my senses after that fall 
down the black stone stairs, I was quite as alone and in darkness as before. The 



226 



windy stench, bad enough before, was now fiendish; yet I had acquired enough 
famiharity by this time to bear it stoically. Dazedly I began to crawl away from 
the place whence the putrid wind came, and with my bleeding hands felt the 
colossal blocks of a mighty pavement. Once my head struck against a hard 
object, and when I felt of it I learned that it was the base of a column - a column 
of unbelievable immensity - whose surface was covered with gigantic chiseled 
hieroglyphics very perceptible to my touch. 

Crawling on, I encountered other titan columns at incomprehensible distances 
apart; when suddenly my attention was captured by the realization of something 
which must have been impinging on my subconscious hearing long before the 
conscious sense was aware of it. 

From some still lower chasm in earth's bowels were proceeding certain sounds, 
measured and definite, and like nothing I had ever heard before. That they were 
very ancient and distinctly ceremonial I felt almost intuitively; and much reading 
in Egyptology led me to associate them with the flute, the sambuke, the sistrum, 
and the tympa num. In their rhythmic piping, droning, rattling and beat ing I felt 
an element of terror beyond all the known terrors of earth - a terror peculiarly 
dissociated from personal fear, and taking the form of a sort of objective pity for 
our planet, that it should hold within its depths such horrors as must lie beyond 
these aegipanic cacophonies. The sounds increased in volume, and I felt that they 
were approaching. Then - and may all the gods of all pantheons unite to keep the 
like from my ears again - I began to hear, faintly and afar off, the morbid and 
millennial tramping of the marching things. 

It was hideous that footfalls so dissimilar should move in such perfect rhythm. 
The training of unhallowed thousands of years must lie behind that march of 
earth's inmost monstrosities ... padding, clicking, walking, stalking, rumbling, 
lumbering, crawling.. . and all to the abhorrent discords of those mocking 
instruments. And then - God keep the memory of those Arab legends out of my 

head! - the mummies without souls ... the meeting-place of the wandering 

the hordes of the devil-cursed pharaonic dead of forty centuries.. . the composite 
mummies led through the uttermost onyx voids by King Khephren and his 
ghoul-queen Nitocris . . . 

The tramping drew nearer - Heaven save me from the sound of those feet and 
paws and hooves and pads and talons as it commenced to acquire detail! Down 
limitless reaches of sunless pavement a spark of light flickered in the malodorous 
wind and I drew behind the enormous circumference of a Cyclopic column that I 
might escape for a while the horror that was stalking million-footed toward me 
through gigantic hypostyles of inhuman dread and phobic antiquity. The flickers 
increased, and the tramping and dissonant rhythm grew sickeningly loud. In the 



227 



quivering orange light there stood faintly forth a scene of such stony awe that I 
gasped from sheer wonder that conquered even fear and repulsion. Bases of 
columns whose middles were higher than human sight. . . mere bases of things 
that must each dwarf the Eiffel Tower to insignificance . . . hieroglyphics carved 
by unthinkable hands in caverns where daylight can be only a remote legend. . . 

I would not look at the marching things. That I desperately resolved as I heard 
their creaking joints and nitrous wheezing above the dead music and the dead 
tramping. It was merciful that they did not speak... but God! their crazy torches 
began to cast shadows on the surface of those stupendous columns. 
Hippopotami should not have human hands and carzy torches. . . men should not 
have the heads of crocodiles. . . 

I tried to turn away, but the shadows and the sounds and the stench were 
everywhere. Then I remembered something I used to do in half-conscious 
nightmares as a boy, and began to repeat to myself, 'This is a dream! This is a 
dream!' But it was of no use, and I could only shut my eyes and pray ... at least, 
that is what I think I did, for one is never sure in visions - and I know this can 
have been nothing more. I wondered whether I should ever reach the world 
again, and at times would furtively open my eyes to see if I could discern any 
feature of the place other than the wind of spiced putrefaction, the topless 
columns, and the thaumatropically grotesque shadows of abnormal horror. The 
sputtering glare of multiplying torches now shone, and unless this hellish place 
were wholly without walls, I could not fail to see some boundary or fixed 
landmark soon. But I had to shut my eyes again when I realized how many of the 
things were assembling - and when I glimpsed a certain object walking solemnly 
and steadily without any body above the waist. 

A fiendish and ululant corpse-gurgle or death-rattle now split the very 
atmosphere - the charnel atmosphere poisonous with naftha and bitumen blasts - 
in one concerted chorus from the ghoulish legion of hybrid blasphemies. My 
eyes, perversely shaken open, gazed for an instant upon a sight which no human 
creature could even imagine without panic, fear and physical exhaustion. The 
things had filed ceremonially in one direction, the direction of the noisome wind, 
where the light of their torches showed their bended heads - or the bended heads 
of such as had heads. They were worshipping before a great black fetor-belching 
aperture which reached up almost out of sight, -and which I could see was 
flanked at right angles by two giant staircases whose ends were far away in 
shadow. One of these was indubitably the staircase I had fallen down. 

The dimensions of the hole were fully in proportion with those of the columns - 
an ordinary house would have been lost in it, and any average public building 
could easily have been moved in and out. It was so vast a surface that only by 



228 



moving the eye could one trace its boundaries.. . so vast, so hideously black, and 
so aromatically stinking . .. Directly in front of this yawning Polyphemus-door 
the things were throwing objects - evidently sacrifices or religious offerings, to 
judge by their gestures. Khephren was their leader; sneering King Khephren or 
the guide Abdul Reis, crowned with a golden pshent and intoning endless 
formulae with the hollow voice of the dead. By his side knelt beautiful Queen 
Nitocris, whom I saw in profile for a moment, noting that the right half of her 
face was eaten away by rats or other ghouls. And I shut my eyes again when I 
saw what objects were being thrown as offerings to the fetid aperture or its 
possible local deity. 

It occurred to me that, judging from the elaborateness of this worship, the 
concealed deity must be one of considerable importance. Was it Osiris or Isis, 
Horus or Anubis, or some vast unknown God of the Dead still more central and 
supreme? There is a legend that terrible altars and colossi were reared to an 
Unknown One before ever the known gods were worshipped. . . 

And now, as I steeled myself to watch the rapt and sepulchral adorations of 
those nameless things, a thought of escape flashed upon me. The hall was dim, 
and the columns heavy with shadow. With every creature of that nightmare 
throng absorbed in shocking raptures, it might be barely possible for me to creep 
past to the far-away end of one of the staircases and ascend unseen; trusting to 
Fate and skill to deliver me from the upper reaches. Where I was, I neither knew 
nor seriously reflected upon - and for a 

moment it struck me as amusing to plan a serious escape from that which I knew 
to be a dream. Was I in some hidden and unsuspected lower realm of 
Khephren' s gateway temple - that temple which generations have persis tently 
called the Temple of the Sphinx? I could not conjecture, but I resolved to ascend 
to life and consciousness if wit and muscle could carry me. 

Wriggling flat on my stomach, I began the anxious journey toward the foot of the 
left-hand staircase, which seemed the more accessible of the two. I cannot 
describe the incidents and sensations of that crawl, but they may be guessed 
when one reflects on what I had to watch steadily in that malign, wind-blown 
torchlight in order to avoid detection. The bottom of the staircase was, as I have 
said, far away in shadow, as it had to be to rise without a bend to the dizzy 
parapeted landing above the titanic aperture. This placed the last stages of my 
crawl at some distance from the noisome herd, though the spectacle chilled me 
even when quite remote at my right. 

At length I succeeded in reaching the steps and began to climb; keeping close to 
the wall, on which I observed decorations of the most hideous sort, and relying 



229 



for safety on the absorbed, ecstatic interest with which the monstrosities watched 
the foul-breezed aperture and the impious objects of nourishment they had flung 
on the pavement before it. Though the staircase was huge and steep, fashioned of 
vast porphyry blocks as if for the feet of a giant, the ascent seemed virtually 
interminable. Dread of discovery and the pain which renewed exercise had 
brought to my wounds combined to make that upward crawl a thing of 
agonizing memory. I had intended, on reaching the landing, to climb 
immediately onward along whatever upper staircase might mount from there; 
stopping for no last look at the carrion abominations that pawed and genuflected 
some seventy or eighty feet below - yet a sudden repetition of that thunderous 
corpse-gurgle and death-rattle chorus, coming as I had nearly gained the top of 
the flight and showing by its ceremonial rhythm that it was not an alarm of my 
discovery, caused me to pause and peer cautiously over the parapet. 

The monstrosities were hailing something which had poked itself out of the 
nauseous aperture to seize the hellish fare proffered it. It was something quite 
ponderous, even as seen from my height; something yellowish and hairy, and 
endowed with a sort of nervous motion. It was as large, perhaps, as a good-sized 
hippopotamus, but very curiously shaped. It seemed to have no neck, but five 
separate shaggy heads springing in a row from a roughly cylindrical trunk; the 
first very small, the second good-sized, the third and fourth equal and largest of 
all, and the fifth rather small, though not so small as the first. 

Out of these heads darted curious rigid tentacles which seized ravenously on the 
excessively great quantities of unmentionable food placed before the aperture. 
Once in a while the thing would leap up, and occasionally it would retreat into 
its den in a very odd manner. Its locomotion was so inexplicable that I stared in 
fascination, wishing it would emerge farther from the cavernous lair beneath me. 

Then it did emerge ... it did emerge, and at the sight I turned and fled into the 
darkness up the higher staircase that rose behind me; fled unknowingly up 
incredible steps and ladders and inclined planes to which no human sight or 
logic guided me, and which I must ever relegate to the world of dreams for want 
of any confirmation. It must have been a dream, or the dawn would never have 
found me breathing on the sands of Gizeh before the sardonic dawn-flushed face 
of the Great Sphinx. 

The Great Sphinx! God! - that idle question I asked myself on that sun-blest 
morning before ... what huge and loathsome abnormality was the Sphinx 
originally carven to represent? 

Accursed is the sight, be it in dream or not, that revealed to me the supreme 
horror - the unknown God of the Dead, which licks its colossal chops in the 



230 



unsuspected abyss, fed hideous morsels by soulless absurdities that should not 
exist. The five-headed monster that emerged ... that five-headed monster as 
large as a hippopotamus ... the five headed monster - and that of which it is the 
merest forepaw. . . 

But I survived, and I know it was only a dream. 



231 



In The Vault 

Written on September 18, 1925 

Published November 1925 in The Tryout 

There is nothing more absurd, as 1 view it, than that conventional association of 
the homely and the wholesome which seems to pervade the psychology of the 
multitude. Mention a bucolic Yankee setting, a bungling and thick-fibred village 
undertaker, and a careless mishap in a tomb, and no average reader can be 
brought to expect more than a hearty albeit grotesque phase of comedy. God 
knows, though, that the prosy tale which George Birch's death permits me to tell 
has in it aspects beside which some of our darkest tragedies are light. 

Birch acquired a limitation and changed his business in 1881, yet never discussed 
the case when he could avoid it. Neither did his old physician Dr. Davis, who 
died years ago. It was generally stated that the affliction and shock were results 
of an unlucky slip whereby Birch had locked himself for nine hours in the 
receiving tomb of Peck Valley Cemetery, escaping only by crude and disastrous 
mechanical means; but while this much was undoubtedly true, there were other 
and blacker things which the man used to whisper to me in his drunken delirium 
toward the last. He confided in me because I was his doctor, and because he 
probably felt the need of confiding in someone else after Davis died. He was a 
bachelor, wholly without relatives. 

Birch, before 1881, had been the village undertaker of Peck Valley; and was a 
very calloused and primitive specimen even as such specimens go. The practices 
I heard attributed to him would be unbelievable today, at least in a city; and even 
Peck Valley would have shuddered a bit had it known the easy ethics of its 
mortuary artist in such debatable matters as the ownership of costly "laying-out" 
apparel invisible beneath the casket's lid, and the degree of dignity to be 
maintained in posing and adapting the unseen members of lifeless tenants to 
containers not always calculated with sublimest accuracy. Most distinctly Birch 
was lax, insensitive, and professionally undesirable; yet I still think he was not an 
evil man. He was merely crass of fibre and function- thoughtless, careless, and 
liquorish, as his easily avoidable accident proves, and without that modicum of 
imagination which holds the average citizen within certain limits fixed by taste. 

Just where to begin Birch's story I can hardly decide, since I am no practiced 
teller of tales. I suppose one should start in the cold December of 1880, when the 
ground froze and the cemetery delvers found they could dig no more graves till 
spring. Fortunately the village was small and the death rate low, so that it was 



232 



possible to give all of Birch's inanimate charges a temporary haven in the single 
antiquated receiving tomb. The undertaker grew doubly lethargic in the bitter 
weather, and seemed to outdo even himself in carelessness. Never did he knock 
together flimsier and ungainlier caskets, or disregard more flagrantly the needs 
of the rusty lock on the tomb door which he slammed open and shut with such 
nonchalant abandon. 

At last the spring thaw came, and graves were laboriously prepared for the nine 
silent harvests of the grim reaper which waited in the tomb. Birch, though 
dreading the bother of removal and interment, began his task of transference one 
disagreeable April morning, but ceased before noon because of a heavy rain that 
seemed to irritate his horse, after having laid but one mortal tenement to its 
permanent rest. That was Darius Peck, the nonagenarian, whose grave was not 
far from the tomb. Birch decided that he would begin the next day with little old 
Matthew Tenner, whose grave was also near by; but actually postponed the 
matter for three days, not getting to work till Good Priday, the 15th. Being 
without superstition, he did not heed the day at all; though ever afterward he 
refused to do anything of importance on that fateful sixth day of the week. 
Certainly, the events of that evening greatly changed George Birch. 

On the afternoon of Triday, April 15th, then. Birch set out for the tomb with 
horse and wagon to transfer the body of Matthew Tenner. That he was not 
perfectly sober, he subsequently admitted; though he had not then taken to the 
wholesale drinking by which he later tried to forget certain things. He was just 
dizzy and careless enough to annoy his sensitive horse, which as he drew it 
viciously up at the tomb neighed and pawed and tossed its head, much as on 
that former occasion when the rain had vexed it. The day was clear, but a high 
wind had sprung up; and Birch was glad to get to shelter as he unlocked the iron 
door and entered the side-hill vault. Another might not have relished the damp, 
odorous chamber with the eight carelessly placed coffins; but Birch in those days 
was insensitive, and was concerned only in getting the right coffin for the right 
grave. He had not forgotten the criticism aroused when Hannah Bixby's 
relatives, wishing to transport her body to the cemetery in the city whither they 
had moved, found the casket of Judge Capwell beneath her headstone. 

The light was dim, but Birch's sight was good, and he did not get Asaph 
Sawyer's coffin by mistake, although it was very similar. He had, indeed, made 
that coffin for Matthew Tenner; but had cast it aside at last as too awkward and 
flimsy, in a fit of curious sentimentality aroused by recalling how kindly and 
generous the little old man had been to him during his bankruptcy five years 
before. He gave old Matt the very best his skill could produce, but was thrifty 
enough to save the rejected specimen, and to use it when Asaph Sawyer died of a 
malignant fever. Sawyer was not a lovable man, and many stories were told of 



233 



his almost inhuman vindictiveness and tenacious memory for wrongs real or 
fancied. To him Birch had felt no compunction in assigning the carelessly made 
coffin which he now pushed out of the way in his quest for the Fenner casket. 

It was just as he had recognised old Matt's coffin that the door slammed to in the 
wind, leaving him in a dusk even deeper than before. The narrow transom 
admitted only the feeblest of rays, and the overhead ventilation funnel virtually 
none at all; so that he was reduced to a profane fumbling as he made his halting 
way among the long boxes toward the latch. In this funereal twilight he rattled 
the rusty handles, pushed at the iron panels, and wondered why the massive 
portal had grown so suddenly recalcitrant. In this twilight too, he began to 
realise the truth and to shout loudly as if his horse outside could do more than 
neigh an unsympathetic reply. For the long-neglected latch was obviously 
broken, leaving the careless undertaker trapped in the vault, a victim of his own 
oversight. 

The thing must have happened at about three-thirty in the afternoon. Birch, 
being by temperament phlegmatic and practical, did not shout long; but 
proceeded to grope about for some tools which he recalled seeing in a corner of 
the tomb. It is doubtful whether he was touched at all by the horror and exquisite 
weirdness of his position, but the bald fact of imprisonment so far from the daily 
paths of men was enough to exasperate him thoroughly. His day's work was 
sadly interrupted, and unless chance presently brought some rambler hither, he 
might have to remain all night or longer. The pile of tools soon reached, and a 
hammer and chisel selected. Birch returned over the coffins to the door. The air 
had begun to be exceedingly unwholesome; but to this detail he paid no 
attention as he toiled, half by feeling, at the heavy and corroded metal of the 
latch. He would have given much for a lantern or bit of candle; but lacking these, 
bungled semi-sightlessly as best he might. 

When he perceived that the latch was hopelessly unyielding, at least to such 
meagre tools and under such tenebrous conditions as these. Birch glanced about 
for other possible points of escape. The vault had been dug from a hillside, so 
that the narrow ventilation funnel in the top ran through several feet of earth, 
making this direction utterly useless to consider. Over the door, however, the 
high, slit-like transom in the brick facade gave promise of possible enlargement 
to a diligent worker; hence upon this his eyes long rested as he racked his brains 
for means to reach it. There was nothing like a ladder in the tomb, and the coffin 
niches on the sides and rear- which Birch seldom took the trouble to use- 
afforded no ascent to the space above the door. Only the coffins themselves 
remained as potential stepping-stones, and as he considered these he speculated 
on the best mode of transporting them. Three coffin-heights, he reckoned, would 
permit him to reach the transom; but he could do better with four. The boxes 



234 



were fairly even, and could be piled up like blocks; so he began to compute how 
he might most stably use the eight to rear a scalable platform four deep. As he 
planned, he could not but wish that the units of his contemplated staircase had 
been more securely made. Whether he had imagination enough to wish they 
were empty, is strongly to be doubted. 

Finally he decided to lay a base of three parallel with the wall, to place upon this 
two layers of two each, and upon these a single box to serve as the platform. This 
arrangement could be ascended with a minimum of awkwardness, and would 
furnish the desired height. Better still, though, he would utilise only two boxes of 
the base to support the superstructure, leaving one free to be piled on top in case 
the actual feat of escape required an even greater altitude. And so the prisoner 
toiled in the twilight, heaving the unresponsive remnants of mortality with little 
ceremony as his miniature Tower of Babel rose course by course. Several of the 
coffins began to split under the stress of handling, and he planned to save the 
stoutly built casket of little Matthew Tenner for the top, in order that his feet 
might have as certain a surface as possible. In the semi-gloom he trusted mostly 
to touch to select the right one, and indeed came upon it almost by accident, 
since it tumbled into his hands as if through some odd volition after he had 
unwittingly placed it beside another on the third layer. 

The tower at length finished, and his aching arms rested by a pause during 
which he sat on the bottom step of his grim device. Birch cautiously ascended 
with his tools and stood abreast of the narrow transom. The borders of the space 
were entirely of brick, and there seemed little doubt but that he could shortly 
chisel away enough to allow his body to pass. As his hammer blows began to 
fall, the horse outside whinnied in a tone which may have been encouraging and 
to others may have been mocking. In either case it would have been appropriate; 
for the unexpected tenacity of the easy-looking brickwork was surely a sardonic 
commentary on the vanity of mortal hopes, and the source of a task whose 
performance deserved every possible stimulus. 

Dusk fell and found Birch still toiling. He worked largely by feeling now, since 
newly gathered clouds hid the moon; and though progress was still slow, he felt 
heartened at the extent of his encroachments on the top and bottom of the 
aperture. He could, he was sure, get out by midnight- though it is characteristic 
of him that this thought was untinged with eerie implications. Undisturbed by 
oppressive reflections on the time, the place, and the company beneath his feet, 
he philosophically chipped away the stony brickwork; cursing when a fragment 
hit him in the face, and laughing when one struck the increasingly excited horse 
that pawed near the cypress tree. In time the hole grew so large that he ventured 
to try his body in it now and then, shifting about so that the coffins beneath him 
rocked and creaked. He would not, he found, have to pile another on his 



235 



platform to make the proper height; for the hole was on exactly the right level to 
use as soon as its size might permit. 

It must have been midnight at least when Birch decided he could get through the 
transom. Tired and perspiring despite many rests, he descended to the floor and 
sat a while on the bottom box to gather strength for the final wriggle and leap to 
the ground outside. The hungry horse was neighing repeatedly and almost 
uncannily, and he vaguely wished it would stop. He was curiously unelated over 
his impending escape, and almost dreaded the exertion, for his form had the 
indolent stoutness of early middle age. As he remounted the splitting coffins he 
felt his weight very poignantly; especially when, upon reaching the topmost one, 
he heard that aggravated crackle which bespeaks the wholesale rending of wood. 
He had, it seems, planned in vain when choosing the stoutest coffin for the 
platform; for no sooner was his full bulk again upon it than the rotting lid gave 
way, jouncing him two feet down on a surface which even he did not care to 
imagine. Maddened by the sound, or by the stench which billowed forth even to 
the open air, the waiting horse gave a scream that was too frantic for a neigh, and 
plunged madly off through the night, the wagon rattling crazily behind it. 

Birch, in his ghastly situation, was now too low for an easy scramble out of the 
enlarged transom; but gathered his energies for a determined try. Clutching the 
edges of the aperture, he sought to pull himself up, when he noticed a queer 
retardation in the form of an apparent drag on both his ankles. In another 
moment he knew fear for the first time that night; for struggle as he would, he 
could not shake clear of the unknown grasp which held his feet in relentless 
captivity. Horrible pains, as of savage wounds, shot through his calves; and in 
his mind was a vortex of fright mixed with an unquenchable materialism that 
suggested splinters, loose nails, or some other attribute of a breaking wooden 
box. Perhaps he screamed. At any rate he kicked and squirmed frantically and 
automatically whilst his consciousness was almost eclipsed in a half-swoon. 

Instinct guided him in his wriggle through the transom, and in the crawl which 
followed his jarring thud on the damp ground. He could not walk, it appeared, 
and the emerging moon must have witnessed a horrible sight as he dragged his 
bleeding ankles toward the cemetery lodge; his fingers clawing the black mould 
in brainless haste, and his body responding with that maddening slowness from 
which one suffers when chased by the phantoms of nightmare. There was 
evidently, however, no pursuer; for he was alone and alive when Armington, the 
lodge-keeper, answered his feeble clawing at the door. 

Armington helped Birch to the outside of a spare bed and sent his little son 
Edwin for Dr. Davis. The afflicted man was fully conscious, but would say 
nothing of any consequence; merely muttering such things as "Oh, my ankles!". 



236 



"Let go!", or "Shut in the tomb". Then the doctor came with his medicine-case 
and asked crisp questions, and removed the patient's outer clothing, shoes, and 
socks. The wounds- for both ankles were frightfully lacerated about the Achilles' 
tendons- seemed to puzzle the old physician greatly, and finally almost to 
frighten him. His questioning grew more than medically tense, and his hands 
shook as he dressed the mangled members; binding them as if he wished to get 
the wounds out of sight as quickly as possible. 

For an impersonal doctor, Davis' ominous and awestruck cross-examination 
became very strange indeed as he sought to drain from the weakened undertaker 
every least detail of his horrible experience. He was oddly anxious to know if 
Birch were sure- absolutely sure- of the identity of that top coffin of the pile; how 
he had chosen it, how he had been certain of it as the Tenner coffin in the dusk, 
and how he had distinguished it from the inferior duplicate coffin of vicious 
Asaph Sawyer. Would the firm Tenner casket have caved in so readily? Davis, an 
old-time village practitioner, had of course seen both at the respective funerals, 
as indeed he had attended both Tenner and Sawyer in their last illnesses. He had 
even wondered, at Sawyer's funeral, how the vindictive farmer had managed to 
lie straight in a box so closely akin to that of the diminutive Tenner. 

After a full two hours Dr. Davis left, urging Birch to insist at all times that his 
wounds were caused entirely by loose nails and splintering wood. What else, he 
added, could ever in any case be proved or believed? But it would be well to say 
as little as could be said, and to let no other doctor treat the wounds. Birch 
heeded this advice all the rest of his life till he told me his story; and when I saw 
the scars- ancient and whitened as they then were- 1 agreed that he was wise in 
so doing. He always remained lame, for the great tendons had been severed; but 
I think the greatest lameness was in his soul. His thinking processes, once so 
phlegmatic and logical, had become ineffaceably scarred; and it was pitiful to 
note his response to certain chance allusions such as "Triday", "Tomb", "Coffin", 
and words of less obvious concatenation. His frightened horse had gone home, 
but his frightened wits never quite did that. He changed his business, but 
something always preyed upon him. It may have been just fear, and it may have 
been fear mixed with a queer belated sort of remorse for bygone crudities. His 
drinking, of course, only aggravated what it was meant to alleviate. 

When Dr. Davis left Birch that night he had taken a lantern and gone to the old 
receiving tomb. The moon was shining on the scattered brick fragments and 
marred facade, and the latch of the great door yielded readily to a touch from the 
outside. Steeled by old ordeals in dissecting rooms, the doctor entered and 
looked about, stifling the nausea of mind and body that everything in sight and 
smell induced. He cried aloud once, and a little later gave a gasp that was more 
terrible than a cry. Then he fled back to the lodge and broke all the rules of his 



237 



calling by rousing and shaking his patient, and hurling at him a succession of 
shuddering whispers that seared into the bewildered ears like the hissing of 
vitriol. 

"It was Asaph's coffin. Birch, just as I thought! I knew his teeth, with the front 
ones missing on the upper jaw- never, for God's sake, show those wounds! The 
body was pretty badly gone, but if ever I saw vindictiveness on any face- or 
former face... You know what a fiend he was for revenge- how he ruined old 
Raymond thirty years after their boundary suit, and how he stepped on the 
puppy that snapped at him a year ago last August. . . He was the devil incarnate. 
Birch, and I believe his eye-for-an-eye fury could beat old Father Death himself. 
God, what a rage! I'd hate to have it aimed at me! 

"Why did you do it. Birch? He was a scoundrel, and I don't blame you for giving 
him a cast-aside coffin, but you always did go too damned far! Well enough to 
skimp on the thing some way, but you knew what a little man old Fenner was. 

"I'll never get the picture out of my head as long as I live. You kicked hard, for 
Asaph's coffin was on the floor. His head was broken in, and everything was 
tumbled about. I've seen sights before, but there was one thing too much here. 
An eye for an eye! Great heavens. Birch, but you got what you deserved. The 
skull turned my stomach, but the other was worse- those ankles cut neatly off to 
fit Matt Fenner's cast-aside coffin!" 



238 



Memory 

Written 1919 

Published May 1923 in The National Amateur, Vol. 45, No. p. 5, 9. 

In the valley of Nis the accursed waning moon shines thinly, tearing a path for its 
light with feeble horns through the lethal foliage of a great upas-tree. And within 
the depths of the valley, where the light reaches not, move forms not meant to be 
beheld. Rank is the herbage on each slope, where evil vines and creeping plants 
crawl amidst the stones of ruined palaces, twining tightly about broken columns 
and strange monoliths, and heaving up marble pavements laid by forgotten 
hands. And in trees that grow gigantic in crumbling courtyards leap little apes, 
while in and out of deep treasure-vaults writhe poison serpents and scaly things 
without a name. Vast are the stones which sleep beneath coverlets of dank moss, 
and mighty were the walls from which they fell. For all time did their builders 
erect them, and in sooth they yet serve nobly, for beneath them the grey toad 
makes his habitation. 

At the very bottom of the valley lies the river Than, whose waters are slimy and 
filled with weeds. From hidden springs it rises, and to subterranean grottoes it 
flows, so that the Daemon of the Valley knows not why its waters are red, nor 
whither they are bound. 

The Genie that haunts the moonbeams spake to the Daemon of the Valley, 
saying, "I am old, and forget much. Tell me the deeds and aspect and name of 
them who built these things of Stone." And the Daemon replied, "I am Memory, 
and am wise in lore of the past, but I too am old. These beings were like the 
waters of the river Than, not to be understood. Their deeds I recall not, for they 
were but of the moment. Their aspect I recall dimly, it was like to that of the little 
apes in the trees. Their name I recall clearly, for it rhymed with that of the river. 
These beings of yesterday were called Man." 

So the Genie flew back to the thin horned moon, and the Daemon looked intently 
at a little ape in a tree that grew in a crumbling courtyard. 



239 



Nyarlathotep 



Written in December of 1920 

Published November 1920 in The United Amateur 

Nyarlathotep. . . the crawling chaos. . . I am the last. . . I will tell the audient void. . . 

I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was months ago. The general 
tension was horrible. To a season of political and social upheaval was added a 
strange and brooding apprehension of hideous physical danger; a danger 
widespread and all-embracing, such a danger as may be imagined only in the 
most terrible phantasms of the night. I recall that the people went about with 
pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one 
dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. A sense 
of monstrous guilt was upon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars 
swept chill currents that made men shiver in dark and lonely places. There was a 
demoniac alteration in the sequence of the seasons the autumn heat lingered 
fearsomely, and everyone felt that the world and perhaps the universe had 
passed from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which 
were unknown. 

And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt. Who he was, none could 
tell, but he was of the old native blood and looked like a Pharaoh. The fellahin 
knelt when they saw him, yet could not say why. He said he had risen up out of 
the blackness of twenty-seven centuries, and that he had heard messages from 
places not on this planet. Into the lands of civilisation came Nyarlathotep, 
swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instruments of glass and 
metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger. He spoke much of the 
sciences of electricity and psychology and gave exhibitions of power which sent 
his spectators away speechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding 
magnitude. Men advised one another to see Nyarlathotep, and shuddered. And 
where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished, for the small hours were rent with the 
screams of nightmare. Never before had the screams of nightmare been such a 
public problem; now the wise men almost wished they could forbid sleep in the 
small hours, that the shrieks of cities might less horribly disturb the pale, pitying 
moon as it glimmered on green waters gliding under bridges, and old steeples 
crumbling against a sickly sky. 

I remember when Nyarlathotep came to my city the great, the old, the terrible 
city of unnumbered crimes. My friend had told me of him, and of the impelling 
fascination and allurement of his revelations, and I burned with eagerness to 



240 



explore his uttermost mysteries. My friend said they were horrible and 
impressive beyond my most fevered imaginings; and what was thrown on a 
screen in the darkened room prophesied things none but Nyarlathotep dared 
prophesy, and in the sputter of his sparks there was taken from men that which 
had never been taken before yet which showed only in the eyes. And I heard it 
hinted abroad that those who knew Nyarlathotep looked on sights which others 
saw not. 

It was in the hot autumn that I went through the night with the restless crowds 
to see Nyarlathotep; through the stifling night and up the endless stairs into the 
choking room. And shadowed on a screen, I saw hooded forms amidst ruins, and 
yellow evil faces peering from behind fallen monuments. And I saw the world 
battling against blackness; against the waves of destruction from ultimate space; 
whirling, churning, struggling around the dimming, cooling sun. Then the 
sparks played amazingly around the heads of the spectators, and hair stood up 
on end whilst shadows more grotesque than I can tell came out and squatted on 
the heads. And when I, who was colder and more scientific than the rest, 
mumbled a trembling protest about imposture and static electricity, 
Nyarlathotep drove us all out, down the dizzy stairs into the damp, hot, deserted 
midnight streets. I screamed aloud that I was not afraid; that I never could be 
afraid; and others screamed with me for solace. We swore to one another that the 
city was exactly the same, and still alive; and when the electric lights began to 
fade we cursed the company over and over again, and laughed at the queer faces 
we made. 

I believe we felt something coming down from the greenish moon, for when we 
began to depend on its light we drifted into curious involuntary marching 
formations and seemed to know our destinations though we dared not think of 
them. Once we looked at the pavement and found the blocks loose and displaced 
by grass, with scarce a line of rusted metal to show where the tramways had run. 
And again we saw a tram-car, lone, windowless, dilapidated, and almost on its 
side. When we gazed around the horizon, we could not find the third tower by 
the river, and noticed that the silhouette of the second tower was ragged at the 
top. Then we split up into narrow columns, each of which seemed drawn in a 
different direction. One disappeared in a narrow alley to the left, leaving only the 
echo of a shocking moan. Another filed down a weed-choked subway entrance, 
howling with a laughter that was mad. My own column was sucked toward the 
open country, and presently I felt a chill which was not of the hot autumn; for as 
we stalked out on the dark moor, we beheld around us the hellish moon-glitter 
of evil snows. Trackless, inexplicable snows, swept asunder in one direction only, 
where lay a gulf all the blacker for its glittering walls. The column seemed very 
thin indeed as it plodded dreamily into the gulf. I lingered behind, for the black 
rift in the green-litten snow was frightful, and I thought I had heard the 



241 



reverberations of a disquieting wail as my companions vanished; but my power 
to linger was slight. As if beckoned by those who had gone before, I half-floated 
between the titanic snowdrifts, quivering and afraid, into the sightless vortex of 
the unimaginable. 

Screamingly sentient, dumbly delirious, only the gods that were can tell. A 
sickened, sensitive shadow writhing in hands that are not hands, and whirled 
blindly past ghastly midnights of rotting creation, corpses of dead worlds with 
sores that were cities, charnel winds that brush the pallid stars and make them 
flicker low. Beyond the worlds vague ghosts of monstrous things; half-seen 
columns of unsanctifled temples that rest on nameless rocks beneath space and 
reach up to dizzy vacua above the spheres of light and darkness. And through 
this revolting graveyard of the universe the muffled, maddening beating of 
drums, and thin, monotonous whine of blasphemous flutes from inconceivable, 
unlighted chambers beyond Time; the detestable pounding and piping 
whereunto dance slowly, awkwardly, and absurdly the gigantic, tenebrous 
ultimate gods the blind, voiceless, mindless gargoyles whose soul is 
Nyarlathotep. 



242 



Picktnan's Model 

Written in 1926 

Published October 1927 in Weird Tales 

You needn't think I'm crazy, Eliot- plenty of others have queerer prejudices than 
this. Why don't you laugh at Oliver's grandfather, who won't ride in a motor? If 
I don't like that damned subway, it's my own business; and we got here more 
quickly anyhow in the taxi. We'd have had to walk up the hill from Park Street if 
we'd taken the car. 

I know I'm more nervous than I was when you saw me last year, but you don't 
need to hold a clinic over it. There's plenty of reason, God knows, and I fancy I'm 
lucky to be sane at all. Why the third degree? You didn't use to be so inquisitive. 

Well, if you must hear it, I don't know why you shouldn't. Maybe you ought to, 
anyhow, for you kept writing me like a grieved parent when you heard I'd 
begun to cut the Art Club and keep away from Pickman. Now that he's 
disappeared I go round to the club once in a while, but my nerves aren't what 
they were. 

No, I don't know what's become of Pickman, and I don't like to guess. You might 
have surmised I had some inside information when I dropped him- and that's 
why I don't want to think where he's gone. Let the police find what they can- it 
won't be much, judging from the fact that they don't know yet of the old North 
End place he hired under the name of Peters. 

I'm not sure that I could find it again myself- not that I'd ever try, even in broad 
daylight! 

Yes, I do know, or am afraid I know, why he maintained it. I'm coming to that. 
And I think you'll understand before I'm through why I don't tell the police. 
They would ask me to guide them, but I couldn't go back there even if I knew the 
way. There was something there- and now I can't use the subway or (and you 
may as well have your laugh at this, too) go down into cellars any more. 

I should think you'd have known I didn't drop Pickman for the same silly 
reasons that fussy old women like Dr. Reid or Joe Minot or Rosworth did. 
Morbid art doesn't shock me, and when a man has the genius Pickman had I feel 
it an honour to know him, no matter what direction his work takes. Boston never 
had a greater painter than Richard Upton Pickman. I said it at first and I say it 



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still, and I never swenved an inch, either, when he showed that 'Ghoul Feeding'. 
That, you remember, was when Minot cut him. 

You know, it takes profound art and profound insight into Nature to turn out 
stuff like Pickman's. Any magazine-cover hack can splash paint around wildly 
and call it a nightmare or a Witches' Sabbath or a portrait of the devil, but only a 
great painter can make such a thing really scare or ring true. That's because only 
a real artist knows the actual anatomy of the terrible or the physiology of fear- 
the exact sort of lines and proportions that connect up with latent instincts or 
hereditary memories of fright, and the proper colour contrasts and lighting 
effects to stir the dormant sense of strangeness. I don't have to tell you why a 
Fuseli really brings a shiver while a cheap ghost-story frontispiece merely makes 
us laugh. There's something those fellows catch- beyond life- that they're able to 
make us catch for a second. Dore had it. Sime has it. Angarola of Chicago has it. 
And Pickman had it as no man ever had it before or- I hope to Heaven- ever will 
again. 

Don't ask me what it is they see. You know, in ordinary art, there's all the 
difference in the world between the vital, breathing things drawn from Nature or 
models and the artificial truck that commercial small fry reel off in a bare studio 
by rule. Well, I should say that the really weird artist has a kind of vision which 
makes models, or summons up what amounts to actual scenes from the spectral 
world he lives in. Anyhow, he manages to turn out results that differ from the 
pretender's mince-pie dreams in just about the same way that the life painter's 
results differ from the concoctions of a correspondence-school cartoonist. If I had 
ever seen what Pickman saw- but no! Here, let's have a drink before we get any 
deeper. God, I wouldn't be alive if I'd ever seen what that man- if he was a man- 
saw ! 

You recall that Pickman's forte was faces. I don't believe anybody since Goya 
could put so much of sheer hell into a set of features or a twist of expression. 
And before Goya you have to go back to the mediaeval chaps who did the 
gargoyles and chimaeras on Notre Dame and Mont Saint-Michel. They believed 
all sorts of things- and maybe they saw all sorts of things, too, for the Middle 
Ages had some curious phases I remember your asking Pickman yourself once, 
the year before you went away, wherever in thunder he got such ideas and 
visions. Wasn't that a nasty laugh he gave you? It was partly because of that 
laugh that Reid dropped him. Reid, you know, had just taken up comparative 
pathology, and was full of pompous 'inside stuff about the biological or 
evolutionary significance of this or that mental or physical symptom. He said 
Pickman repelled him more and more every day, and almost frightened him 
towards the last- that the fellow's features and expression were slowly 
developing in a way he didn't like; in a way that wasn't human. He had a lot of 



244 



talk about diet, and mid Pickman must be abnormal and eccentric to the last 
degree. I suppose you told Reid, if you and he had any correspondence over it, 
that he'd let Pickman's paintings get on his nerves or harrow up his imagination. 
I know I told him that myself- then. 

But keep in mind that I didn't drop Pickman for anything like this. On the 
contrary, my admiration for him kept growing; for that 'Ghoul Feeding' was a 
tremendous achievement. As you know, the club wouldn't exhibit it, and the 
Museum of Fine Arts wouldn't accept it as a gift; and I can add that nobody 
would buy it, so Pickman had it right in his house till he went. Now his father 
has it in Salem- you know Pickman comes of old Salem stock, and had a witch 
ancestor hanged in 1692. 

I got into the habit of calling on Pickman quite often, especially after I began 
making notes for a monograph on weird art. Probably it was his work which put 
the idea into my head, and anyhow, I found him a mine of data and suggestions 
when I came to develop it. He showed me all the paintings and drawings he had 
about; including some pen-and-ink sketches that would, I verily believe, have got 
him kicked out of the club if many of the members had seen them. Before long I 
was pretty nearly a devotee, and would listen for hours like a schoolboy to art 
theories and philosophic speculations wild enough to qualify him for the 
Danvers asylum. My hero-worship, coupled with the fact that people generally 
were commencing to have less and less to do with him, made him get very 
confidential with me; and one evening he hinted that if I were fairly close- 
mouthed and none too squeamish, he might show me something rather unusual- 
something a bit stronger than anything he had in the house. 

'You know,' he said, 'there are things that won't do for Newbury Street- things 
that are out of place here, and that can't be conceived here, anyhow. It's my 
business to catch the overtones of the soul, and you won't find those in a 
parvenu set of artificial streets on made land. Back Bay isn't Boston- it isn't 
anything yet, because it's had no time to pick up memories and attract local 
spirits. If there are any ghosts here, they're the tame ghosts of a salt marsh and a 
shallow cove; and I want human ghosts- the ghosts of beings highly organized 
enough to have looked on hell and known the meaning of what they saw. 

'The place for an artist to live is the North End. If any aesthete were sincere, he'd 
put up with the slums for the sake of the massed traditions. God, man! Don't you 
realize that places like that weren't merely made, but actually grew? Generation 
after generation lived and felt and died there, and in days when people weren't 
afraid to live and fed and die. Don't you know there was a mill on Copp's Hill in 
1632, and that half the present streets were laid out by 1650? I can show you 
houses that have stood two centuries and a half and more; houses that have 



245 



witnessed what would make a modern house crumble into powder. What do 
moderns know of life and the forces behind it? You call the Salem witchcraft a 
delusion, but I'll wager my four-times-great-grandmother could have told you 
things. They hanged her on Gallows Hill, with Cotton Mather looking 
sanctimoniously on. Mather, damn him, was afraid somebody might succeed in 
kicking free of this accursed cage of monotony- I wish someone had laid a spell 
on him or sucked his blood in the night! 

'I can show you a house he lived in, and I can show you another one he was 
afraid to enter in spite of all his fine bold talk. He knew things he didn't dare put 
into that stupid Magnalia or that puerile Wonders of the Invisible World. Look 
here, do you know the whole North End once had a set of tunnels that kept 
certain people in touch with each other's houses, and the burying ground, and 
the sea? Let them prosecute and persecute above ground- things went on every 
day that they couldn't reach, and voices laughed at night that they couldn't 
place! 

'Why, man, out of ten surviving houses built before 1700 and not moved since I'll 
wager that in eight I can show you something queer in the cellar. There's hardly 
a month that you don't read of workmen finding bricked-up arches and wells 
leading nowhere in this or that old place as it comes down- you could see one 
near Henchman Street from the elevated last year. There were witches and what 
their spells summoned; pirates and what they brought in from the sea; 
smugglers; privateers- and I tell you, people knew how to live, and how to 
enlarge the bounds of life, in the old time! This wasn't the only world a bold and 
wise man could know- faugh! And to think of today in contrast, with such pale- 
pink brains that even a club of supposed artists gets shudders and convulsions if 
a picture goes beyond the feelings of a Beacon Street tea-table! 

'The only saving grace of the present is that it's too damned stupid to question 
the past very closely. What do maps and records and guide-books really tell of 
the North End? Bah! At a guess I'll guarantee to lead you to thirty or forty alleys 
and networks of alleys north of Prince Street that aren't suspected by ten living 
beings outside of the foreigners that swarm them. And what do those Dagoes 
know of their meaning? No, Thurber, these ancient places are dreaming 
gorgeously and over-flowing with wonder and terror and escapes from the 
commonplace, and yet there's not a living soul to understand or profit by them. 
Or rather, there's only one living soul- for I haven't been digging around in the 
past for nothing ! 

'See here, you're interested in this sort of thing. What if I told you that I've got 
another studio up there, where I can catch the night-spirit of antique horror and 
paint things that I couldn't even think of in Newbury Street? Naturally I don't 



246 



tell those cursed old maids at the club - with Reid, damn him, whispering even 
as it is that I'm a sort of monster bound down the toboggan of reverse evolution. 
Yes, Thurber, I decided long ago that one must paint terror as well as beauty 
from life, so I did some exploring in places where I had reason to know terror 
lives. 

'I've got a place that I don't believe three living Nordic men besides myself have 
ever seen. It isn't so very far from the elevated as distance goes, but it's centuries 
away as the soul goes. I took it because of the queer old brick well in the cellar- 
one of the sort I told you about. The shack's almost tumbling down so that 
nobody else would live there, and I'd hate to tell you how little I pay for it. The 
windows are boarded up, but I like that all the better, since I don't want daylight 
for what I do. I paint in the cellar, where the inspiration is thickest, but I've other 
rooms furnished on the ground floor. A Sicilian owns it, and I've hired it under 
the name of Peters. 

'Now, if you're game, I'll take you there tonight. I think you'd enjoy the pictures, 
for, as I said, I've let myself go a bit there. It's no vast tour- I sometimes do it on 
foot, for I don't want to attract attention with a taxi in such a place. We can take 
the shuttle at the South Station for Battery Street, and after that the walk isn't 
much.' 

Well, Eliot, there wasn't much for me to do after that harangue but to keep 
myself from running instead of walking for the first vacant cab we could sight. 
We changed to the elevated at the South Station, and at about twelve o'clock had 
climbed down the steps at Battery Street and struck along the old waterfront past 
Constitution Wharf. I didn't keep track of the cross streets, and can't tell you yet 
which it was we turned up, but I know it wasn't Greenough Lane. 

When we did turn, it was to climb through the deserted length of the oldest and 
dirtiest alley I ever saw in my life, with crumbling-looking gables, broken small- 
paned windows, and archaic chimneys that stood out half-disintegrated against 
the moonlit sky. I don't believe there were three houses in sight that hadn't been 
standing in Cotton Mather's time- certainly I glimpsed at least two with an 
overhang, and once I thought I saw a peaked roof-line of the almost forgotten 
pre-gambrel type, though antiquarians tell us there are none left in Boston. 

From that alley, which had a dim light, we turned to the left into an equally silent 
and still narrower alley with no light at all: and in a minute made what I think 
was an obtuse-angled bend towards the right in the dark. Not long after this 
Pickman produced a flashlight and revealed an antediluvian ten-panelled door 
that looked damnably worm-eaten. Unlocking it, he ushered me into a barren 
hallway with what was once splendid dark-oak panelling- simple, of course, but 



247 



thrillingly suggestive of the times of Andros and Phipps and the Witchcraft. 
Then he took me through a door on the left, Hghted an oil lamp, and told me to 
make myself at home. 

Now, Eliot, I'm what the man in the street would call fairly 'hard-boiled,' but I'll 
confess that what I saw on the walls of that room gave me a bad turn. They were 
his pictures, you know - the ones he couldn't paint or even show in Newbury 
Street- and he was right when he said he had 'let himself go.' Here- have another 
drink- I need one anyhow! 

There's no use in my trying to tell you what they were like, because the awful, 
the blasphemous horror, and the unbelievable loathsomeness and moral foetor 
came from simple touches quite beyond the power of words to classify. There 
was none of the exotic technique you see in Sidney Sime, none of the trans- 
Saturnian landscapes and lunar fungi that Clark Ashton Smith uses to freeze the 
blood. The backgrounds were mostly old churchyards, deep woods, cliffs by the 
sea, brick tunnels, ancient panelled rooms, or simple vaults of masonry. Copp's 
Hill Burying Ground, which could not be many blocks away from this very 
house, was a favourite scene. 

The madness and monstrosity lay in the figures in the foreground- for Pickman's 
morbid art was pre-eminently one of demoniac portraiture. These figures were 
seldom completely human, but often approached humanity in varying degree. 
Most of the bodies, while roughly bipedal, had a forward slumping, and a 
vaguely canine cast. The texture of the majority was a kind of unpleasant 
rubberiness. Ugh! I can see them now! Their occupations - well, don't ask me to 
be too precise. They were usually feeding- I won't say on what. They were 
sometimes shown in groups in cemeteries or underground passages, and often 
appeared to be in battle over their prey- or rather, their treasure-trove. And what 
damnable expressiveness Pickman sometimes gave the sightless faces of this 
charnel booty! Occasionally the things were shown leaping through open 
windows at night, or squatting on the chests of sleepers, worrying at their 
throats. One canvas showed a ring of them baying about a hanged witch on 
Gallows Hill, whose dead face held a close kinship to theirs. 

But don't get the idea that it was all this hideous business of theme and setting 
which struck me faint. I'm not a three-year-old kid, and I'd seen much like this 
before. It was the faces, Eliot, those accursed faces, that leered and slavered out 
of the canvas with the very breath of life! By God, man, I verily believe they were 
alive! That nauseous wizard had waked the fires of hell in pigment, and his 
brush had been a nightmare-spawning wand. Give me that decanter, Eliot! 



248 



There was one thing called 'The Lesson'- Heaven pity me, that I ever saw it! 
Listen- can you fancy a squatting circle of nameless dog-like things in a 
churchyard teaching a small child how to feed like themselves? The price of a 
changeling, I suppose- you know the old myth about how the weird people leave 
their spawn in cradles in exchange for the human babes they steal. Pickman was 
showing what happens to those stolen babes- how they grow up- and then I 
began to see a hideous relationship in the faces of the human and non-human 
figures. He was, in all his gradations of morbidity between the frankly non- 
human and the degradedly human, establishing a sardonic linkage and 
evolution. The dog- things were developed from mortals! 

And no sooner had I wondered what he made of their own young as left with 
mankind in the form of changelings, than my eye caught a picture embodying 
that very thought. It was that of an ancient Puritan interior- a heavily beamed 
room with lattice windows, a settle, and clumsy seventeenth-century furniture, 
with the family sitting about while the father read from the Scriptures. Every face 
but one showed nobility and reverence, but that one reflected the mockery of the 
pit. It was that of a young man in years, and no doubt belonged to a supposed 
son of that pious father, but in essence it was the kin of the unclean things. It was 
their changeling- and in a spirit of supreme irony Pickman had given the features 
a very perceptible resemblance to his own. 

By this time Pickman had lighted a lamp in an adjoining room and was politely 
holding open the door for me; asking me if I would care to see his 'modern 
studies.' I hadn't been able to give him much of my opinions- I was too 
speechless with fright and loathing- but I think he fully understood and felt 
highly complimented. And now I want to assure you again, Eliot, that I'm no 
mollycoddle to scream at anything which shows a bit of departure from the 
usual. I'm middle-aged and decently sophisticated, and I guess you saw enough 
of me in France to know I'm not easily knocked out. Remember, too, that I'd just 
about recovered my wind and gotten used to those frightful pictures which 
turned colonial New England into a kind of annex of hell. Well, in spite of all 
this, that next room forced a real scream out of me, and I had to clutch at the 
doorway to keep from keeling over. The other chamber had shown a pack of 
ghouls and witches over-running the world of our forefathers, but this one 
brought the horror right into our own daily life! 

God, how that man could paint! There was a study called 'Subway Accident,' in 
which a flock of the vile things were clambering up from some unknown 
catacomb through a crack in the floor of the Boston Street subway and attacking 
a crowd of people on the platform. Another showed a dance on Copp's Hill 
among the tombs with the background of today. Then there were any number of 
cellar views, with monsters creeping in through holes and rifts in the masonry 



249 



and grinning as they squatted behind barrels or furnaces and waited for their 
first victim to descend the stairs. 

One disgusting canvas seemed to depict a vast cross-section of Beacon Hill, with 
ant-like armies of the mephitic monsters squeezing themselves through burrows 
that honeycombed the ground. Dances in the modern cemeteries were freely 
pictured, and another conception somehow shocked me more than all the rest- a 
scene in an unknown vault, where scores of the beasts crowded about one who 
had a well-known Boston guidebook and was evidently reading aloud. All were 
pointing to a certain passage, and every face seemed so distorted with epileptic 
and reverberant laughter that I almost thought I heard the fiendish echoes. The 
title of the picture was, 'Holmes, Lowell and Longfellow Lie Buried in Mount 
Auburn.' 

As I gradually steadied myself and got readjusted to this second room of deviltry 
and morbidity, I began to analyse some of the points in my sickening loathing. In 
the first place, I said to myself, these things repelled because of the utter 
inhumanity and callous crudity they showed in Pickman. The fellow must be a 
relentless enemy of all mankind to take such glee in the torture of brain and flesh 
and the degradation of the mortal tenement. In the second place, they terrified 
because of their very greatness. Their art was the art that convinced- when we 
saw the pictures we saw the demons themselves and were afraid of them. And 
the queer part was, that Pickman got none of his power from the use of 
selectiveness or bizarrerie. Nothing was blurred, distorted, or conventionalized; 
outlines were sharp and lifelike, and details were almost painfully defined. And 
the faces! 

It was not any mere artist's interpretation that we saw; it was pandemonium 
itself, crystal clear in stark objectivity. That was it, by Heaven! The man was not a 
fantaisiste or romanticist at all- he did not even try to give us the churning, 
prismatic ephemera of dreams, but coldly and sardonically reflected some stable, 
mechanistic, and well-established horror- world which he saw fully, brilliantly, 
squarely, and unfalteringly. God knows what that world can have been, or 
where he ever glimpsed the blasphemous shapes that loped and trotted and 
crawled through it; but whatever the baffling source of his images, one thing was 
plain. Pickman was in every sense- in conception and in execution- a thorough, 
painstaking, and almost scientific realist. 

My host was now leading the way down the cellar to his actual studio, and I 
braced myself for some hellish efforts among the unfinished canvases. As we 
reached the bottom of the damp stairs he fumed his flash-light to a corner of the 
large open space at hand, revealing the circular brick curb of what was evidently 
a great well in the earthen floor. We walked nearer, and I saw that it must be five 



250 



feet across, with walls a good foot thick and some six inches above the ground 
level- solid work of the seventeenth century, or I was much mistaken. That, 
Pickman said, was the kind of thing he had been talking about- an aperture of 
the network of tunnels that used to undermine the hill. I noticed idly that it did 
not seem to be bricked up, and that a heavy disc of wood formed the apparent 
cover. Thinking of the things this well must have been connected with if 
Pickman's wild hints had not been mere rhetoric, I shivered slightly; then turned 
to follow him up a step and through a narrow door into a room of fair size, 
provided with a wooden floor and furnished as a studio. An acetylene gas outfit 
gave the light necessary for work. 

The unfinished pictures on easels or propped against the walls were as ghastly as 
the finished ones upstairs, and showed the painstaking methods of the artist. 
Scenes were blocked out with extreme care, and pencilled guide lines told of the 
minute exactitude which Pickman used in getting the right perspective and 
proportions. The man was great- I say it even now, knowing as much as I do. A 
large camera on a table excited my notice, and Pickman told me that he used it in 
taking scenes for backgrounds, so that he might paint them from photographs in 
the studio instead of carting his oufit around the town for this or that view. He 
thought a photograph quite as good as an actual scene or model for sustained 
work, and declared he employed them regularly. 

There was something very disturbing about the nauseous sketches and half- 
finished monstrosities that leered round from every side of the room, and when 
Pickman suddenly unveiled a huge canvas on the side away from the light I 
could not for my life keep back a loud scream- the second I had emitted that 
night. It echoed and echoed through the dim vaultings of that ancient and 
nitrous cellar, and I had to choke back a flood of reaction that threatened to burst 
out as hysterical laughter. Merciful Creator! Eliot, but I don't know how much 
was real and how much was feverish fancy. It doesn't seem to me that earth can 
hold a dream like that! 

It was a colossal and nameless blasphemy with glaring red eyes, and it held in 
bony claws a thing that had been a man, gnawing at the head as a child nibbles at 
a stick of candy. Its position was a kind of crouch, and as one looked one felt that 
at any moment it might drop its present prey and seek a juicier morsel. But damn 
it all, it wasn't even the fiendish subject that made it such an immortal fountain- 
head of all panic- not that, nor the dog face with its pointed ears, bloodshot eyes, 
flat nose, and drooling lips. It wasn't the scaly claws nor the mould-caked body 
nor the half-hooved feet- none of these, though any one of them might well have 
driven an excitable man to madness. 



251 



It was the technique, Ehot- the cursed, the impious, the unnatural technique! As I 
am a Hving being, I never elsewhere saw the actual breath of life so fused into a 
canvas. The monster was there- it glared and gnawed and gnawed and glared- 
and I knew that only a suspension of Nature's laws could ever let a man paint a 
thing like that without a model- without some glimpse of the nether world which 
no mortal unsold to the Fiend has ever had. 

Pinned with a thumb-tack to a vacant part of the canvas was a piece of paper 
now badly curled up- probably, I thought, a photograph from which Pickman 
meant to paint a background as hideous as the nightmare it was to enhance. I 
reached out to uncurl and look at it, when suddenly I saw Pickman start as if 
shot. He had been listening with peculiar intensity ever since my shocked scream 
had waked unaccustomed echoes in the dark cellar, and now he seemed struck 
with a fright which, though not comparable to my own, had in it more of the 
physical than of the spiritual. He drew a revolver and motioned me to silence, 
then stepped out into the main cellar and closed the door behind him. 

I think I was paralysed for an instant. Imitating Pickman's listening, I fancied I 
heard a faint scurrying sound somewhere, and a series of squeals or beats in a 
direction I couldn't determine. I thought of huge rats and shuddered. Then there 
came a subdued sort of clatter which somehow set me all in gooseflesh- a furtive, 
groping kind of clatter, though I can't attempt to convey what I mean in words. It 
was like heavy wood falling on stone or brick- wood on brick- what did that 
make me think of? 

It came again, and louder. There was a vibration as if the wood had fallen farther 
than it had fallen before. After that followed a sharp grating noise, a shouted 
gibberish from Pickman, and the deafening discharge of all six chambers of a 
revolver, fired spectacularly as a lion tamer might fire in the air for effect. A 
muffled squeal or squawk, and a thud. Then more wood and brick grating, a 
pause, and the opening of the door- at which I'll confess I started violently. 
Pickman reappeared with his smoking weapon, cursing the bloated rats that 
infested the ancient well. 

'The deuce knows what they eat, Thurber,' he grinned, 'for those archaic tunnels 
touched graveyard and witch-den and sea-coast. But whatever it is, they must 
have run short, for they were devilish anxious to get out. Your yelling stirred 
them up, I fancy. Better be cautious in these old places- our rodent friends are the 
one drawback, though I sometimes think they're a positive asset by way of 
atmosphere and colour.' 

Well, Eliot, that was the end of the night's adventure. Pickman had promised to 
show me the place, and Heaven knows he had done it. He led me out of that 



252 



tangle of alleys in another direction, it seems, for when we sighted a lamp-post 
we were in a half-familiar street with monotonous rows of mingled tenement 
blocks and old houses. Charter Street, it turned out to be, but I was too flustered 
to notice just where we hit it. We were too late for the elevated, and walked back 
downtown through Hanover Street. I remember that wall. We switched from 
Tremont up Beacon, and Pickman left me at the corner of Joy, where I turned off. 
I never spoke to him again. 

Why did I drop him? Don't be impatient. Wait till I ring for coffee. We've had 
enough of the other stuff, but I for one need something. No -it wasn't the 
paintings I saw in that place; though I'll swear they were enough to get him 
ostracised in nine-tenths of the homes and clubs of Boston, and I guess you won't 
wonder now why I have to steer clear of subways and cellars. It was- something I 
found in my coat the next morning. You know, the curled-up paper tacked to the 
frightful canvas in the cellar; the thing I thought was a photograph of some scene 
he meant to use as a background for that monster. That last scare had come while 
I was reaching to uncurl it, and it seems I had vacantly crumpled it into my 
pocket. But here's the coffee- take it black, Eliot, if you're wise. 

Yes, that paper was the reason I dropped Pickman; Richard Upton Pickman, the 
greatest artist I have ever known- and the foulest being that ever leaped the 
bounds of life into the pits of myth and madness. Eliot- old Reid was right. He 
wasn't strictly human. Either he was born in strange shadow, or he'd found a 
way to unlock the forbidden gate. It's all the same now, for he's gone- back into 
the fabulous darkness he loved to haunt. Here, let's have the chandelier going. 

Don't ask me to explain or even conjecture about what I burned. Don't ask me, 
either, what lay behind that mole-like scrambling Pickman was so keen to pass 
off as rats. There are secrets, you know, which might have come down from old 
Salem times, and Cotton Mather tells even stranger things. You know how 
damned lifelike Pickman's paintings were- how we all wondered where he got 
those faces. 

Well - that paper wasn't a photograph of any background, after all. What it 
showed was simply the monstrous being he was painting on that awful canvas. 
It was the model he was using- and its background was merely the wall of the 
cellar studio in minute detail. But by God, Eliot, it was a photograph from life! 



253 



Polaris 



Written in 1918 

Published December in 1920 in The Philosopher 

Into the North Window of my chamber glows the Pole Star with uncanny light. 
All through the long hellish hours of blackness it shines there. And in the 
autumn of the year, when the winds from the north curse and whine, and the 
red-leaved trees of the swamp mutter things to one another in the small hours of 
the morning under the horned waning moon, I sit by the casement and watch 
that star. Down from the heights reels the glittering Cassiopeia as the hours wear 
on, while Charles' Wain lumbers up from behind the vapour-soaked swamp 
trees that sway in the night wind. Just before dawn Arcturus winks ruddily from 
above the cemetary on the low hillock, and Coma Berenices shimmers weirdly 
afar off in the mysterious east; but still the Pole Star leers down from the same 
place in the black vault, winking hideously like an insane watching eye which 
strives to convey some strange message, yet recalls nothing save that it once had 
a message to convey. Sometimes, when it is cloudy, I can sleep. 
Well do I remember the night of the great Aurora, when over the swamp played 
the shocking corruscations of the demon light. After the beam came clouds, and 
then I slept. 

And it was under a horned waning moon that I saw the city for the first time. 
Still and somnolent did it lie, on a strange plateau in a hollow between strange 
peaks. Of ghastly marble were its walls and its towers, its columns, domes, and 
pavements. In the marble streets were marble pillars, the upper parts of which 
were carven into the images of grave bearded men. The air was warm and stirred 
not. And overhead, scarce ten degrees from the zenith, glowed that watching 
Pole Star. Long did I gaze on the city, but the day came not. When the red 
Aldebaran, which blinked low in the sky but never set, had crawled a quarter of 
the way around the horizon, I saw light and motion in the houses and the streets. 
Forms strangely robed, but at once noble and familiar, walked abroad and under 
the horned waning moon men talked wisdom in a tongue which I understood, 
though it was unlike any language which I had ever known. And when the red 
Aldebaran had crawled more than half-way around the horizon, there were 
again darkness and silence. 

When I awaked, I was not as I had been. Upon my memory was graven the 
vision of the city, and within my soul had arisen another and vaguer recollection, 
of whose nature I was not then certain. Thereafter, on the cloudy nights when I 
could not sleep, I saw the city often; sometimes under the hot, yellow rays of a 



254 



sun which did not set, but which wheeled low in the horizon. And on the clear 
nights the Pole Star leered as never before. 

Gradually I came to wonder what might be my place in that city on the strange 
plateau betwixt strange peaks. At first content to view the scene as an all- 
observant uncorporeal presence, I now desired to define my relation to it, and to 
speak my mind amongst the grave men who conversed each day in the public 
squares. I said to myself, "This is no dream, for by what means can I prove the 
greater reality of that other life in the house of stone and brick south of the 
sinister swamp and the cemetery on the low hillock, where the Pole Star peeps 
into my north window each night?" 

One night as I listened to the discourses in the large square containing many 
statues, I felt a change; and perceived that I had at last a bodily form. Nor was I a 
stranger in the streets of Olathoe, which lies on the plateau of Sarkia, betwixt the 
peaks of Noton and Kadiphonek. It was my friend Alos who spoke, and his 
speech was one that pleased my soul, for it was the speech of a true man and 
patriot. That night had the news come of Daikos' fall, and of the advance of the 
Inutos; squat, hellish yellow fiends who five years ago had appeared out of the 
unknown west to ravage the confines of our kingdom, and to besiege many of 
our towns. Having taken the fortified places at the foot of the mountains, their 
way now lay open to the plateau, unless every citizen could resist with the 
strength of ten men. For the squat creatures were mighty in the arts of war, and 
knew not the scruples of honour which held back our tall, grey-eyed men of 
Lomar from ruthless conquest. 

Alos, my friend, was commander of all the forces on the plateau, and in him lay 
the last hope of our country. On this occasion he spoke of the perils to be faced 
and exhorted the men of Olathoe, bravest of the Lomarians, to sustain the 
traditions of their ancestors, who when forced to move southward from Zobna 
before the advance of the great ice sheet (even as our descendents must some day 
flee from the land of Lomar) valiently and victoriously swept aside the hairly, 
long-armed, cannibal Gnophkehs that stood in their way. To me Alos denied the 
warriors part, for I was feeble and given to strange faintings when subjected to 
stress and hardships. But my eyes were the keenest in the city, despite the long 
hours I gave each day to the study of the Pnakotic manuscripts and the wisdom 
of the Zobnarian Fathers; so my friend, desiring not to doom me to inaction, 
rewarded me with that duty which was second to nothing in importance. To the 
watchtower of Thapnen he sent me, there to serve as the eyes of our army. 
Should the Inutos attempt to gain the citadel by the narrow pass behind the peak 
Noton and thereby surprise the garrison, I was to give the signal of fire which 
would warn the waiting soldiers and save the town from immediate disaster. 



255 



Alone I mounted the tower, for every man of stout body was needed in the 
passes below. My brain was sore dazed with excitement and fatigue, for I had 
not slept in many days; yet was my purpose firm, for I loved my native land of 
Lomar, and the marble city Olathoe that lies betwixt the peaks Noton and 
Kadiphonek. 

But as I stood in the tower's topmost chamber, I beheld the horned waning 
moon, red and sinister, quivering through the vapours that hovered over the 
distant valley of Banof. And through an opening in the roof glittered the pale 
Pole Star, fluttering as if alive, and leering like a fiend and tempter. Methought 
its spirit whispered evil counsel, soothing me to traitorous somnolence with a 
damnable rhythmical promise which it repeated over and over: 



Slumber, 


watcher. 




till 






the 




spheres. 


Six 
Have 


and 

revolv'd. 


twenty 

and 




thousand 
I 




years 
return 


To 


the spot 




where 




now 




I 


burn. 


Other 


stars 




anon 






shall 




rise 


To 


the axis 




of 




the 




skies; 


Stars 


that soothe 




and 




stars 




that 


bless 


With 


a 




sweet 






for 


getfulness: 


Only 


when 


my 




round 




is 


o'er 



Shall the past disturb thy door. 

Vainly did I struggle with my drowsiness, seeking to connect these strange 
words with some lore of the skies which I had learnt from the Pnakotic 
manuscripts. My head, heavy and reeling, drooped to my breast, and when next 
I looked up it was in a dream, with the Pole Star grinning at me through a 
window from over the horrible and swaying trees of a dream swamp. And I am 
still dreaming. 

In my shame and despair I sometimes scream frantically, begging the dream- 
creatures around me to waken me ere the Inutos steal up the pass behind the 
peak Noton and take the citadel by surprise; but these creatures are demons, for 
they laugh at me and tell me I am not dreaming. They mock me whilst I sleep, 
and whilst the squat yellow foe may be creeping silently upon us. I have failed in 
my duties and betrayed the marble city of Olathoe; I have proven false to Alos, 
my friend and commander. But still these shadows of my dreams deride me. 
They say there is no land of Lomar, save in my nocturnal imaginings; that in 
these realms where the Pole Star shines high, and red Aldebaran crawls low 
around the horizon, there has been naught save ice and snow for thousands of 
years of years, and never a man save squat, yellow creatures, blighted by the 
cold, called "Esquimaux." 



256 



And as I writhe in my guilty agony, frantic to save the city whose peril every 
moment grows, and vainly striving to shake off this unnatural dream of a house 
of stone and brick south of a sinister swamp and a cemetery on a low hillock, the 
Pole Star, evil and monstrous, leers down from the black vault, winking 
hideously like an insane watching eye which strives to convey some message, yet 
recalls nothing save that it once had a message to convey. 



257 



The Alchemist 

Written in 1908 

Published November 1916 in The United Amateur 

High up, crowning the grassy summit of a swelHng mount whose sides are 
wooded near the base with the gnarled trees of the primeval forest stands the old 
chateau of my ancestors. For centuries its lofty battlements have frowned down 
upon the wild and rugged countryside about, serving as a home and stronghold 
for the proud house whose honored line is older even than the moss-grown 
castle walls. These ancient turrets, stained by the storms of generations and 
crumbling under the slow yet mighty pressure of time, formed in the ages of 
feudalism one of the most dreaded and formidable fortresses in all France. From 
its machicolated parapets and mounted battlements Barons, Counts, and even 
Kings had been defied, yet never had its spacious halls resounded to the 
footsteps of the invader. 

But since those glorious years, all is changed. A poverty but little above the level 
of dire want, together with a pride of name that forbids its alleviation by the 
pursuits of commercial life, have prevented the scions of our line from 
maintaining their estates in pristine splendour; and the falling stones of the 
walls, the overgrown vegetation in the parks, the dry and dusty moat, the ill- 
paved courtyards, and toppling towers without, as well as the sagging floors, the 
worm-eaten wainscots, and the faded tapestries within, all tell a gloomy tale of 
fallen grandeur. As the ages passed, first one, then another of the four great 
turrets were left to ruin, until at last but a single tower housed the sadly reduced 
descendants of the once mighty lords of the estate. 

It was in one of the vast and gloomy chambers of this remaining tower that I, 
Antoine, last of the unhappy and accursed Counts de C-, first saw the light of 
day, ninety long years ago. Within these walls and amongst the dark and 
shadowy forests, the wild ravines and grottos of the hillside below, were spent 
the first years of my troubled life. My parents I never knew. My father had been 
killed at the age of thirty-two, a month before I was born, by the fall of a stone 
somehow dislodged from one of the deserted parapets of the castle. And my 
mother having died at my birth, my care and education devolved solely upon 
one remaining servitor, an old and trusted man of considerable intelligence, 
whose name I remember as Pierre. I was an only child and the lack of 
companionship which this fact entailed upon me was augmented by the strange 
care exercised by my aged guardian, in excluding me from the society of the 
peasant children whose abodes were scattered here and there upon the plains 



258 



that surround the base of the hill. At that time, Pierre said that this restriction 
was imposed upon me because my noble birth placed me above association with 
such plebeian company. Now I know that its real object was to keep from my 
ears the idle tales of the dread curse upon our line that were nightly told and 
magnified by the simple tenantry as they conversed in hushed accents in the 
glow of their cottage hearths. 

Thus isolated, and thrown upon my own resources, I spent the hours of my 
childhood in poring over the ancient tomes that filled the shadow haunted 
library of the chateau, and in roaming without aim or purpose through the 
perpetual dust of the spectral wood that clothes the side of the hill near its foot. It 
was perhaps an effect of such surroundings that my mind early acquired a shade 
of melancholy. Those studies and pursuits which partake of the dark and occult 
in nature most strongly claimed my attention. 

Of my own race I was permitted to learn singularly little, yet what small 
knowledge of it I was able to gain seemed to depress me much. Perhaps it was at 
first only the manifest reluctance of my old preceptor to discuss with me my 
paternal ancestry that gave rise to the terror which I ever felt at the mention of 
my great house, yet as I grew out of childhood, I was able to piece together 
disconnected fragments of discourse, let slip from the unwilling tongue which 
had begun to falter in approaching senility, that had a sort of relation to a certain 
circumstance which I had always deemed strange, but which now became dimly 
terrible. The circumstance to which I allude is the early age at which all the 
Counts of my line had met their end. Whilst I had hitherto considered this but a 
natural attribute of a family of short-lived men, I afterward pondered long upon 
these premature deaths, and began to connect them with the wanderings of the 
old man, who often spoke of a curse which for centuries had prevented the lives 
of the holders of my title from much exceeding the span of thirty-two years. 
Upon my twenty-first birthday, the aged Pierre gave to me a family document 
which he said had for many generations been handed down from father to son, 
and continued by each possessor. Its contents were of the most startling nature, 
and its perusal confirmed the gravest of my apprehensions. At this time, my 
belief in the supernatural was firm and deep-seated, else I should have dismissed 
with scorn the incredible narrative unfolded before my eyes. 

The paper carried me back to the days of the thirteenth century, when the old 
castle in which I sat had been a feared and impregnable fortress. It told of a 
certain ancient man who had once dwelled on our estates, a person of no small 
accomplishments, though little above the rank of peasant, by name, Michel, 
usually designated by the surname of Mauvais, the Evil, on account of his 
sinister reputation. He had studied beyond the custom of his kind, seeking such 
things as the Philosopher's Stone or the Elixir of Eternal Life, and was reputed 



259 



wise in the terrible secrets of Black Magic and Alchemy. Michel Mauvais had one 
son, named Charles, a youth as proficient as himself in the hidden arts, who had 
therefore been called Le Sorcier, or the Wizard. This pair, shunned by all honest 
folk, were suspected of the most hideous practices. Old Michel was said to have 
burnt his wife alive as a sacrifice to the Devil, and the unaccountable 
disappearance of many small peasant children was laid at the dreaded door of 
these two. Yet through the dark natures of the father and son ran one redeeming 
ray of humanity; the evil old man loved his offspring with fierce intensity, whilst 
the youth had for his parent a more than filial affection. 

One night the castle on the hill was thrown into the wildest confusion by the 
vanishment of young Godfrey, son to Henri, the Count. A searching party, 
headed by the frantic father, invaded the cottage of the sorcerers and there came 
upon old Michel Mauvais, busy over a huge and violently boiling cauldron. 
Without certain cause, in the ungoverned madness of fury and despair, the 
Count laid hands on the aged wizard, and ere he released his murderous hold, 
his victim was no more. Meanwhile, joyful servants were proclaiming the finding 
of young Godfrey in a distant and unused chamber of the great edifice, telling 
too late that poor Michel had been killed in vain. As the Count and his associates 
turned away from the lowly abode of the alchemist, the form of Charles Le 
Sorcier appeared through the trees. The excited chatter of the menials standing 
about told him what had occurred, yet he seemed at first unmoved at his father's 
fate. Then, slowly advancing to meet the Count, he pronounced in dull yet 
terrible accents the curse that ever afterward haunted the house of C-. 

'May ne'er a noble of thy murd'rous line 

Survive to reach a greater age than thine!' 

spake he, when, suddenly leaping backwards into the black woods, he drew 
from his tunic a phial of colourless liquid which he threw into the face of his 
father's slayer as he disappeared behind the inky curtain of the night. The Count 
died without utterance, and was buried the next day, but little more than two 
and thirty years from the hour of his birth. No trace of the assassin could be 
found, though relentless bands of peasants scoured the neighboring woods and 
the meadowland around the hill. 

Thus time and the want of a reminder dulled the memory of the curse in the 
minds of the late Count's family, so that when Godfrey, innocent cause of the 
whole tragedy and now bearing the title, was killed by an arrow whilst hunting 
at the age of thirty-two, there were no thoughts save those of grief at his demise. 
But when, years afterward, the next young Count, Robert by name, was found 
dead in a nearby field of no apparent cause, the peasants told in whispers that 
their seigneur had but lately passed his thirty-second birthday when surprised 



260 



by early death. Louis, son to Robert, was found drowned in the moat at the same 
fateful age, and thus down through the centuries ran the ominous chronicle: 
Henris, Roberts, Antoines, and Armands snatched from happy and virtuous lives 
when little below the age of their unfortunate ancestor at his murder. 

That I had left at most but eleven years of further existence was made certain to 
me by the words which I had read. My life, previously held at small value, now 
became dearer to me each day, as I delved deeper and deeper into the mysteries 
of the hidden world of black magic. Isolated as I was, modern science had 
produced no impression upon me, and I laboured as in the Middle Ages, as 
wrapt as had been old Michel and young Charles themselves in the acquisition of 
demonological and alchemical learning. Yet read as I might, in no manner could I 
account for the strange curse upon my line. In unusually rational moments I 
would even go so far as to seek a natural explanation, attributing the early deaths 
of my ancestors to the sinister Charles Le Sorcier and his heirs; yet, having found 
upon careful inquiry that there were no known descendants of the alchemist, I 
would fall back to occult studies, and once more endeavor to find a spell, that 
would release my house from its terrible burden. Upon one thing I was 
absolutely resolved. I should never wed, for, since no other branch of my family 
was in existence, I might thus end the curse with myself. 

As I drew near the age of thirty, old Pierre was called to the land beyond. Alone I 
buried him beneath the stones of the courtyard about which he had loved to 
wander in life. Thus was I left to ponder on myself as the only human creature 
within the great fortress, and in my utter solitude my mind began to cease its 
vain protest against the impending doom, to become almost reconciled to the fate 
which so many of my ancestors had met. Much of my time was now occupied in 
the exploration of the ruined and abandoned halls and towers of the old chateau, 
which in youth fear had caused me to shun, and some of which old Pierre had 
once told me had not been trodden by human foot for over four centuries. 
Strange and awesome were many of the objects I encountered. Furniture, 
covered by the dust of ages and crumbling with the rot of long dampness, met 
my eyes. Cobwebs in a profusion never before seen by me were spun 
everywhere, and huge bats flapped their bony and uncanny wings on all sides of 
the otherwise untenanted gloom. 

Of my exact age, even down to days and hours, I kept a most careful record, for 
each movement of the pendulum of the massive clock in the library told off so 
much of my doomed existence. At length I approached that time which I had so 
long viewed with apprehension. Since most of my ancestors had been seized 
some little while before they reached the exact age of Count Henri at his end, I 
was every moment on the watch for the coming of the unknown death. In what 
strange form the curse should overtake me, I knew not; but I was resolved at 



261 



least that it should not find me a cowardly or a passive victim. With new vigour I 
applied myself to my examination of the old chateau and its contents. 

It was upon one of the longest of all my excursions of discovery in the deserted 
portion of the castle, less than a week before that fatal hour which I felt must 
mark the utmost limit of my stay on earth, beyond which I could have not even 
the slightest hope of continuing to draw breath that I came upon the culminating 
event of my whole life. I had spent the better part of the morning in climbing up 
and down half ruined staircases in one of the most dilapidated of the ancient 
turrets. As the afternoon progressed, I sought the lower levels, descending into 
what appeared to be either a mediaeval place of confinement, or a more recently 
excavated storehouse for gunpowder. As I slowly traversed the nitre-encrusted 
passageway at the foot of the last staircase, the paving became very damp, and 
soon I saw by the light of my flickering torch that a blank, water-stained wall 
impeded my journey. Turning to retrace my steps, my eye fell upon a small 
trapdoor with a ring, which lay directly beneath my foot. Pausing, I succeeded 
with difficulty in raising it, whereupon there was revealed a black aperture, 
exhaling noxious fumes which caused my torch to sputter, and disclosing in the 
unsteady glare the top of a flight of stone steps. 

As soon as the torch which I lowered into the repellent depths burned freely and 
steadily, I commenced my descent. The steps were many, and led to a narrow 
stone-flagged passage which I knew must be far underground. This passage 
proved of great length, and terminated in a massive oaken door, dripping with 
the moisture of the place, and stoutly resisting all my attempts to open it. 
Ceasing after a time my efforts in this direction, I had proceeded back some 
distance toward the steps when there suddenly fell to my experience one of the 
most profound and maddening shocks capable of reception by the human mind. 
Without warning, I heard the heavy door behind me creak slowly open upon its 
rusted hinges. My immediate sensations were incapable of analysis. To be 
confronted in a place as thoroughly deserted as I had deemed the old castle with 
evidence of the presence of man or spirit produced in my brain a horror of the 
most acute description. When at last I turned and faced the seat of the sound, my 
eyes must have started from their orbits at the sight that they beheld. 

There in the ancient Gothic doorway stood a human figure. It was that of a man 
clad in a skull-cap and long mediaeval tunic of dark colour. His long hair and 
flowing beard were of a terrible and intense black hue, and of incredible 
profusion. His forehead, high beyond the usual dimensions; his cheeks, deep- 
sunken and heavily lined with wrinkles; and his hands, long, claw-like, and 
gnarled, were of such a deadly marble-like whiteness as I have never elsewhere 
seen in man. His figure, lean to the proportions of a skeleton, was strangely bent 
and almost lost within the voluminous folds of his peculiar garment. But 



262 



strangest of all were his eyes, twin caves of abysmal blackness, profound in 
expression of understanding, yet inhuman in degree of wickedness. These were 
now fixed upon me, piercing my soul with their hatred, and rooting me to the 
spot whereon I stood. 

At last the figure spoke in a rumbling voice that chilled me through with its dull 
hoUowness and latent malevolence. The language in which the discourse was 
clothed was that debased form of Latin in use amongst the more learned men of 
the Middle Ages, and made familiar to me by my prolonged researches into the 
works of the old alchemists and demonologists. The apparition spoke of the 
curse which had hovered over my house, told me of my coming end, dwelt on 
the wrong perpetrated by my ancestor against old Michel Mauvais, and gloated 
over the revenge of Charles Le Sorcier. He told how young Charles has escaped 
into the night, returning in after years to kill Godfrey the heir with an arrow just 
as he approached the age which had been his father's at his assassination; how 
he had secretly returned to the estate and established himself, unknown, in the 
even then deserted subterranean chamber whose doorway now framed the 
hideous narrator, how he had seized Robert, son of Godfrey, in a field, forced 
poison down his throat, and left him to die at the age of thirty-two, thus 
maintaing the foul provisions of his vengeful curse. At this point I was left to 
imagine the solution of the greatest mystery of all, how the curse had been 
fulfilled since that time when Charles Le Sorcier must in the course of nature 
have died, for the man digressed into an account of the deep alchemical studies 
of the two wizards, father and son, speaking most particularly of the researches 
of Charles Le Sorcier concerning the elixir which should grant to him who 
partook of it eternal life and youth. 

His enthusiasm had seemed for the moment to remove from his terrible eyes the 
black malevolence that had first so haunted me, but suddenly the fiendish glare 
returned and, with a shocking sound like the hissing of a serpent, the stranger 
raised a glass phial with the evident intent of ending my life as had Charles Le 
Sorcier, six hundred years before, ended that of my ancestor. Prompted by some 
preserving instinct of self-defense, I broke through the spell that had hitherto 
held me immovable, and flung my now dying torch at the creature who menaced 
my existence. I heard the phial break harmlessly against the stones of the passage 
as the tunic of the strange man caught fire and lit the horrid scene with a ghastly 
radiance. The shriek of fright and impotent malice emitted by the would-be 
assassin proved too much for my already shaken nerves, and I fell prone upon 
the slimy floor in a total faint. 

When at last my senses returned, all was frightfully dark, and my mind, 
remembering what had occurred, shrank from the idea of beholding any more; 
yet curiosity over-mastered all. Who, I asked myself, was this man of evil, and 



263 



how came he within the castle walls? Why should he seek to avenge the death of 
Michel Mauvais, and how bad the curse been carried on through all the long 
centuries since the time of Charles Le Sorcier? The dread of years was lifted from 
my shoulder, for I knew that he whom I had felled was the source of all my 
danger from the curse; and now that I was free, I burned with the desire to learn 
more of the sinister thing which had haunted my line for centuries, and made of 
my own youth one long-continued nightmare. Determined upon further 
exploration, I felt in my pockets for flint and steel, and lit the unused torch which 
I had with me. 

First of all, new light revealed the distorted and blackened form of the 
mysterious stranger. The hideous eyes were now closed. Disliking the sight, I 
turned away and entered the chamber beyond the Gothic door. Here I found 
what seemed much like an alchemist's laboratory. In one corner was an immense 
pile of shining yellow metal that sparkled gorgeously in the light of the torch. It 
may have been gold, but I did not pause to examine it, for I was strangely 
affected by that which I had undergone. At the farther end of the apartment was 
an opening leading out into one of the many wild ravines of the dark hillside 
forest. Filled with wonder, yet now realizing how the man had obtained access to 
the chauteau, I proceeded to return. I had intended to pass by the remains of the 
stranger with averted face but, as I approached the body, I seemed to hear 
emanating from it a faint sound, as though life were not yet wholly extinct. 
Aghast, I turned to examine the charred and shrivelled figure on the floor. 

Then all at once the horrible eyes, blacker even than the seared face in which they 
were set, opened wide with an expression which I was unable to interpret. The 
cracked lips tried to frame words which I could not well understand. Once I 
caught the name of Charles Le Sorcier, and again I fancied that the words 'years' 
and 'curse' issued from the twisted mouth. Still I was at a loss to gather the 
purport of his disconnnected speech. At my evident ignorance of his meaning, 
the pitchy eyes once more flashed malevolently at me, until, helpless as I saw my 
opponent to be, I trembled as I watched him. 

Suddenly the wretch, animated with his last burst of strength, raised his piteous 
head from the damp and sunken pavement. Then, as I remained, paralyzed with 
fear, he found his voice and in his dying breath screamed forth those words 
which have ever afterward haunted my days and nights. 'Fool!' he shrieked, 
'Can you not guess my secret? Have you no brain whereby you may recognize 
the will which has through six long centuries fulfilled the dreadful curse upon 
the house? Have I not told you of the great elixir of eternal life? Know you not 
how the secret of Alchemy was solved? I tell you, it is I! I! I! that have lived for 
six hundred years to maintain my revenge, for I am Charles Le Sorcier!' 



264 



The Beast in the Cave 

Written on April 21, 1905 

Published in June 1918 in The Vagrant 

The horrible conclusion which had been gradually intruding itself upon my 
confused and reluctant mind was now an awful certainty. I was lost, completely, 
hopelessly lost in the vast and labyrinthine recess of the Mammoth Cave. Turn as 
I might, in no direction could my straining vision seize on any object capable of 
serving as a guidepost to set me on the outward path. That nevermore should I 
behold the blessed light of day, or scan the pleasant bills and dales of the 
beautiful world outside, my reason could no longer entertain the slightest 
unbelief. Hope had departed. Yet, indoctrinated as I was by a life of 
philosophical study, I derived no small measure of satisfaction from my 
unimpassioned demeanour; for although I had frequently read of the wild 
frenzies into which were thrown the victims of similar situations, I experienced 
none of these, but stood quiet as soon as I clearly realised the loss of my bearings. 

Nor did the thought that I had probably wandered beyond the utmost limits of 
an ordinary search cause me to abandon my composure even for a moment. If I 
must die, I reflected, then was this terrible yet majestic cavern as welcome a 
sepulchre as that which any churchyard might afford, a conception which carried 
with it more of tranquillity than of despair. 

Starving would prove my ultimate fate; of this I was certain. Some, I knew, had 
gone mad under circumstances such as these, but I felt that this end would not be 
mine. My disaster was the result of no fault save my own, since unknown to the 
guide I had separated myself from the regular party of sightseers; and, 
wandering for over an hour in forbidden avenues of the cave, had found myself 
unable to retrace the devious windings which I had pursued since forsaking my 
companions. 

Already my torch had begun to expire; soon I would be enveloped by the total 
and almost palpable blackness of the bowels of the earth. As I stood in the 
waning, unsteady light, I idly wondered over the exact circumstances of my 
coming end. I remembered the accounts which I had heard of the colony of 
consumptives, who, taking their residence in this gigantic grotto to find health 
from the apparently salubrious air of the underground world, with its steady, 
uniform temperature, pure air, and peaceful quiet, had found, instead, death in 
strange and ghastly form. I had seen the sad remains of their ill-made cottages as 
I passed them by with the party, and had wondered what unnatural influence a 



265 



long sojourn in this immense and silent cavern would exert upon one as healthy 
and vigorous as I. Now, I grimly told myself, my opportunity for settling this 
point had arrived, provided that want of food should not bring me too speedy a 
departure from this life. 

As the last fitful rays of my torch faded into obscurity, I resolved to leave no 
stone unturned, no possible means of escape neglected; so, summoning all the 
powers possessed by my lungs, I set up a series of loud shoutings, in the vain 
hope of attracting the attention of the guide by my clamour. Yet, as I called, I 
believed in my heart that my cries were to no purpose, and that my voice, 
magnified and reflected by the numberless ramparts of the black maze about me, 
fell upon no ears save my own. 

All at once, however, my attention was fixed with a start as I fancied that I heard 
the sound of soft approaching steps on the rocky floor of the cavern. 

Was my deliverance about to be accomplished so soon? Had, then, all my 
horrible apprehensions been for naught, and was the guide, having marked my 
unwarranted absence from the party, following my course and seeking me out in 
this limestone labyrinth? Whilst these joyful queries arose in my brain, I was on 
the point of renewing my cries, in order that my discovery might come the 
sooner, when in an instant my delight was turned to horror as I listened; for my 
ever acute ear, now sharpened in even greater degree by the complete silence of 
the cave, bore to my benumbed understanding the unexpected and dreadful 
knowledge that these footfalls were not like those of any mortal man. In the 
unearthly stillness of this subterranean region, the tread of the booted guide 
would have sounded like a series of sharp and incisive blows. These impacts 
were soft, and stealthy, as of the paws of some feline. Besides, when I listened 
carefully, I seemed to trace the falls of four instead of two feet. 

I was now convinced that I had by my own cries aroused and attracted some 
wild beast, perhaps a mountain lion which had accidentally strayed within the 
cave. Perhaps, I considered, the Almighty had chosen for me a swifter and more 
merciful death than that of hunger; yet the instinct of self-preservation, never 
wholly dormant, was stirred in my breast, and though escape from the on- 
coming peril might but spare me for a sterner and more lingering end, I 
determined nevertheless to part with my life at as high a price as I could 
command. Strange as it may seem, my mind conceived of no intent on the part of 
the visitor save that of hostility. Accordingly, I became very quiet, in the hope 
that the unknown beast would, in the absence of a guiding sound, lose its 
direction as had I, and thus pass me by. But this hope was not destined for 
realisation, for the strange footfalls steadily advanced, the animal evidently 
having obtained my scent, which in an atmosphere so absolutely free from all 



266 



distracting influences as is that of the cave, could doubtless be followed at great 
distance. 

Seeing therefore that I must be armed for defense against an uncanny and unseen 
attack in the dark, I groped about me the largest of the fragments of rock which 
were strewn upon all parts of the floor of the cavern in the vicinity, and grasping 
one in each hand for immediate use, awaited with resignation the inevitable 
result. Meanwhile the hideous pattering of the paws drew near. Certainly, the 
conduct of the creature was exceedingly strange. Most of the time, the tread 
seemed to be that of a quadruped, walking with a singular lack of unison betwixt 
hind and fore feet, yet at brief and infrequent intervals I fancied that but two feet 
were engaged in the process of locomotion. I wondered what species of animal 
was to confront me; it must, I thought, be some unfortunate beast who had paid 
for its curiosity to investigate one of the entrances of the fearful grotto with a life- 
long confinement in its interminable recesses. It doubtless obtained as food the 
eyeless fish, bats and rats of the cave, as well as some of the ordinary fish that are 
wafted in at every freshet of Green River, which communicates in some occult 
manner with the waters of the cave. I occupied my terrible vigil with grotesque 
conjectures of what alteration cave life might have wrought in the physical 
structure of the beast, remembering the awful appearances ascribed by local 
tradition to the consumptives who had died after long residence in the cave. 
Then I remembered with a start that, even should I succeed in felling my 
antagonist, I should never behold its form, as my torch had long since been 
extinct, and I was entirely unprovided with matches. The tension on my brain 
now became frightful. My disordered fancy conjured up hideous and fearsome 
shapes from the sinister darkness that surrounded me, and that actually seemed 
to press upon my body. Nearer, nearer, the dreadful footfalls approached. It 
seemed that I must give vent to a piercing scream, yet had I been sufficiently 
irresolute to attempt such a thing, my voice could scarce have responded. I was 
petrified, rooted to the spot. I doubted if my right arm would allow me to hurl its 
missile at the oncoming thing when the crucial moment should arrive. Now the 
steady pat, pat, of the steps was close at hand; now very close. I could hear the 
laboured breathing of the animal, and terror-struck as I was, I realised that it 
must have come from a considerable distance, and was correspondingly 
fatigued. Suddenly the spell broke. My right hand, guided by my ever 
trustworthy sense of hearing, threw with full force the sharp-angled bit of 
limestone which it contained, toward that point in the darkness from which 
emanated the breathing and pattering, and, wonderful to relate, it nearly reached 
its goal, for I heard the thing jump, landing at a distance away, where it seemed 
to pause. 

Having readjusted my aim, I discharged my second missile, this time most 
effectively, for with a flood of joy I listened as the creature fell in what sounded 



267 



like a complete collapse and evidently remained prone and unmoving. Almost 
overpowered by the great relief which rushed over me, I reeled back against the 
wall. The breathing continued, in heavy, gasping inhalations and expirations, 
whence I realised that I had no more than wounded the creature. And now all 
desire to examine the thing ceased. At last something allied to groundless, 
superstitious fear had entered my brain, and I did not approach the body, nor 
did I continue to cast stones at it in order to complete the extinction of its life. 
Instead, I ran at full speed in what was, as nearly as I could estimate in my 
frenzied condition, the direction from which I had come. Suddenly I heard a 
sound or rather, a regular succession of sounds. In another Instant they had 
resolved themselves into a series of sharp, metallic clicks. This time there was no 
doubt. It was the guide. And then I shouted, yelled, screamed, even shrieked 
with joy as I beheld in the vaulted arches above the faint and glimmering 
effulgence which I knew to be the reflected light of an approaching torch. I ran to 
meet the flare, and before I could completely understand what had occurred, was 
lying upon the ground at the feet of the guide, embracing his boots and 
gibbering, despite my boasted reserve, in a most meaningless and idiotic 
manner, pouring out my terrible story, and at the same time overwhelming my 
auditor with protestations of gratitude. At length, I awoke to something like my 
normal consciousness. The guide had noted my absence upon the arrival of the 
party at the entrance of the cave, and had, from his own intuitive sense of 
direction, proceeded to make a thorough canvass of by-passages just ahead of 
where he had last spoken to me, locating my whereabouts after a quest of about 
four hours. 

By the time he had related this to me, I, emboldened by his torch and his 
company, began to reflect upon the strange beast which I had wounded but a 
short distance back in the darkness, and suggested that we ascertain, by the 
flashlight's aid, what manner of creature was my victim. Accordingly I retraced 
my steps, this time with a courage born of companionship, to the scene of my 
terrible experience. Soon we descried a white object upon the floor, an object 
whiter even than the gleaming limestone itself. Cautiously advancing, we gave 
vent to a simultaneous ejaculation of wonderment, for of all the unnatural 
monsters either of us had in our lifetimes beheld, this was in surpassing degree 
the strangest. It appeared to be an anthropoid ape of large proportions, escaped, 
perhaps, from some itinerant menagerie. Its hair was snow-white, a thing due no 
doubt to the bleaching action of a long existence within the inky confines of the 
cave, but it was also surprisingly thin, being indeed largely absent save on the 
head, where it was of such length and abundance that it fell over the shoulders in 
considerable profusion. The face was turned away from us, as the creature lay 
almost directly upon it. The inclination of the limbs was very singular, 
explaining, however, the alternation in their use which I bad before noted, 
whereby the beast used sometimes all four, and on other occasions but two for its 



268 



progress. From the tips of the fingers or toes, long rat-Hke claws extended. The 
hands or feet were not prehensile, a fact that I ascribed to that long residence in 
the cave which, as I before mentioned, seemed evident from the all-pervading 
and almost unearthly whiteness so characteristic of the whole anatomy. No tail 
seemed to be present. 

The respiration had now grown very feeble, and the guide had drawn his pistol 
with the evident intent of despatching the creature, when a sudden sound 
emitted by the latter caused the weapon to fall unused. The sound was of a 
nature difficult to describe. It was not like the normal note of any known species 
of simian, and I wonder if this unnatural quality were not the result of a long 
continued and complete silence, broken by the sensations produced by the 
advent of the light, a thing which the beast could not have seen since its first 
entrance into the cave. The sound, which I might feebly attempt to classify as a 
kind of deep-tone chattering, was faintly continued. 

All at once a fleeting spasm of energy seemed to pass through the frame of the 
beast. The paws went through a convulsive motion, and the limbs contracted. 
With a jerk, the white body rolled over so that its face was turned in our 
direction. For a moment I was so struck with horror at the eyes thus revealed that 
I noted nothing else. They were black, those eyes, deep jetty black, in hideous 
contrast to the snow-white hair and flesh. Like those of other cave denizens, they 
were deeply sunken in their orbits, and were entirely destitute of iris. As I looked 
more closely, I saw that they were set in a face less prognathous than that of the 
average ape, and infinitely less hairy. The nose was quite distinct. As we gazed 
upon the uncanny sight presented to our vision, the thick lips opened, and 
several sounds issued from them, after which the thing relaxed in death. 

The guide clutched my coat sleeve and trembled so violently that the light shook 
fitfully, casting weird moving shadows on the walls. 

I made no motion, but stood rigidly still, my horrified eyes fixed upon the floor 
ahead. 

The fear left, and wonder, awe, compassion, and reverence succeeded in its 
place, for the sounds uttered by the stricken figure that lay stretched out on the 
limestone had told us the awesome truth. The creature I had killed, the strange 
beast of the unfathomed cave, was, or had at one time been a MAN!!! 



269 



The Book 

Written in 1934 

My memories are very confused. There is even much doubt as to where they 
begin; for at times I feel appaUing vistas of years stretching behind me, while at 
other times it seems as if the present moment were an isolated point in a grey, 
formless infinity. I am not even certain how I am communicating this message. 
While I know I am speaking, I have a vague impression that some strange and 
perhaps terrible mediation will be needed to bear what I say to the points where 
I wish to be heard. My identity, too, is bewilderingly cloudy. I seem to have 
suffered a great shock- perhaps from some utterly monstrous outgrowth of my 
cycles of unique, incredible experience. 

These cycles of experience, of course, all stem from that worm-riddled book. I 
remember when I found it- in a dimly lighted place near the black, oily river 
where the mists always swirl. That place was very old, and the ceiling-high 
shelves full of rotting volumes reached back endlessly through windowless inner 
rooms and alcoves. There were, besides, great formless heaps of books on the 
floor and in crude bins; and it was in one of these heaps that I found the thing. I 
never learned its title, for the early pages were missing; but it fell open toward 
the end and gave me a glimpse of something which sent my senses reeling. 

There was a formula- a sort of list of things to say and do- which I recognized as 
something black and forbidden; something which I had read of before in furtive 
paragraphs of mixed abhorrence and fascination penned by those strange ancient 
delvers into the universe's guarded secrets whose decaying texts I loved to 
absorb. It was a key- a guide- to certain gateways and transitions of which 
mystics have dreamed and whispered since the race was young, and which lead 
to freedoms and discoveries beyond the three dimensions and realms of life and 
matter that we know. Not for centuries had any man recalled its vital substance 
or known where to find it, but this book was very old indeed. No printing-press, 
but the hand of some half-crazed monk, had traced these ominous Latin phrases 
in uncials of awesome antiquity. 

I remember how the old man leered and tittered, and made a curious sign with 
his hand when I bore it away. He had refused to take pay for it, and only long 
afterwards did I guess why. As I hurried home through those narrow, winding, 
mist-cloaked waterfront streets I had a frightful impression of being stealthily 
followed by softly padding feet. The centuried, tottering houses on both sides 
seemed alive with a fresh and morbid malignity- as if some hitherto closed 
channel of evil understanding had abruptly been opened. I felt that those walls 



270 



and over-hanging gables of mildewed brick and fungoid plaster and timber- 
with eyelike, diamond-paned windows that leered- could hardly desist from 
advancing and crushing me . . . yet I had read only the least fragment of that 
blasphemous rune before closing the book and bringing it away. 

I remember how I read the book at last- white-faced, and locked in the attic room 
that I had long devoted to strange searchings. The great house was very still, for I 
had not gone up till after midnight. I think I had a family then- though the details 
are very uncertain- and I know there were many servants. Just what the year was 
I cannot say; for since then I have known many ages and dimensions, and have 
had all my notions of time dissolved and refashioned. It was by the light of 
candles that I read- I recall the relentless dripping of the wax- and there were 
chimes that came every now and then from distant belfries. I seemed to keep 
track of those chimes with a peculiar intentness, as if I feared to hear some very 
remote, intruding note among them. 

Then came the first scratching and fumbling at the dormer window that looked 
out high above the other roofs of the city. It came as I droned aloud the ninth 
verse of that primal lay, and I knew amidst my shudders what it meant. For he 
who passes the gateways always wins a shadow, and never again can he be 
alone. I had evoked- and the book was indeed all I had suspected. That night I 
passed the gateway to a vortex of twisted time and vision, and when morning 
found me in the attic room I saw in the walls and shelves and fittings that which 
I had never seen before. 

Nor could I ever after see the world as I had known it. Mixed with the present 
scene was always a little of the past and a little of the future, and every once- 
familiar object loomed alien in the new perspective brought by my widened 
sight. From then on I walked in a fantastic dream of unknown and half-known 
shapes; and with each new gateway crossed, the less plainly could I recognise the 
things of the narrow sphere to which I had so long been bound. What I saw 
about me, none else saw; and I grew doubly silent and aloof lest I be thought 
mad. Dogs had a fear of me, for they felt the outside shadow which never left my 
side. But still I read more- in hidden, forgotten books and scrolls to which my 
new vision led me- and pushed through fresh gateways of space and being and 
life-patterns toward the core of the unknown cosmos. 

I remember the night I made the five concentric circles of fire on the floor, and 
stood in the innermost one chanting that monstrous litany the messenger from 
Tartary had brought. The walls melted away, and I was swept by a black wind 
through gulfs of fathomless grey with the needle-like pinnacles of unknown 
mountains miles below me. After a while there was utter blackness, and then the 
light of myriad stars forming strange, alien constellations. Finally I saw a green- 



271 



litten plain far below me, and discerned on it the twisted towers of a city built in 
no fashion I had ever known or read or dreamed of. As I floated closer to that 
city I saw a great square building of stone in an open space, and felt a hideous 
fear clutching at me. I screamed and struggled, and after a blankness was again 
in my attic room sprawled flat over the five phosphorescent circles on the floor. 
In that night's wandering there was no more of strangeness than in many a 
former night's wandering; but there was more of terror because I knew I was 
closer to those outside gulfs and worlds than I had ever been before. Thereafter I 
was more cautious with my incantations, for I had no wish to be cut off from my 
body and from the earth in unknown abysses whence I could never return. . . 



272 



The Call of Cthulhu 



Written in 1926 

Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival. . . a survival 
of a hugely remote period when... consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in 
shapes and forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity. . . 
forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called 
them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds. . . 

- Algernon Blackwood 

I. The Horror In Clay 

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind 
to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of 
black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The 
sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but 
some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such 
terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall 
either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety 
of a new dark age. 

Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle wherein 
our world and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange 
survivals in terms which would freeze the blood if not masked by a bland 
optimism. But it is not from them that there came the single glimpse of forbidden 
eons which chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it. That 
glimpse, like all dread glimpses of truth, flashed out from an accidental piecing 
together of separated things - in this case an old newspaper item and the notes of 
a dead professor. I hope that no one else will accomplish this piecing out; 
certainly, if I live, I shall never knowingly supply a link in so hideous a chain. I 
think that the professor, too intented to keep silent regarding the part he knew, 
and that he would have destroyed his notes had not sudden death seized him. 

My knowledge of the thing began in the winter of 1926-27 with the death of my 
great-uncle, George Gammell Angell, Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages in 
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Professor Angell was widely 
known as an authority on ancient inscriptions, and had frequently been resorted 
to by the heads of prominent museums; so that his passing at the age of ninety- 
two may be recalled by many. Locally, interest was intensified by the obscurity 
of the cause of death. The professor had been stricken whilst returning from the 



273 



Newport boat; falling suddenly; as witnesses said, after having been jostled by a 
nautical-looking negro who had come from one of the queer dark courts on the 
precipitous hillside which formed a short cut from the waterfront to the 
deceased's home in Williams Street. Physicians were unable to find any visible 
disorder, but concluded after perplexed debate that some obscure lesion of the 
heart, induced by the brisk ascent of so steep a hill by so elderly a man, was 
responsible for the end. At the time I saw no reason to dissent from this dictum, 
but latterly I am inclined to wonder - and more than wonder. 

As my great-uncle's heir and executor, for he died a childless widower, I was 
expected to go over his papers with some thoroughness; and for that purpose 
moved his entire set of files and boxes to my quarters in Boston. Much of the 
material which I correlated will be later published by the American 
Archaeological Society, but there was one box which I found exceedingly 
puzzling, and which I felt much averse from showing to other eyes. It had been 
locked and I did not find the key till it occurred to me to examine the personal 
ring which the professor carried in his pocket. Then, indeed, I succeeded in 
opening it, but when I did so seemed only to be confronted by a greater and 
more closely locked barrier. For what could be the meaning of the queer clay bas- 
relief and the disjointed jottings, ramblings, and cuttings which I found? Had my 
uncle, in his latter years become credulous of the most superficial impostures? I 
resolved to search out the eccentric sculptor responsible for this apparent 
disturbance of an old man's peace of mind. 

The bas-relief was a rough rectangle less than an inch thick and about five by six 
inches in area; obviously of modern origin. Its designs, however, were far from 
modern in atmosphere and suggestion; for, although the vagaries of cubism and 
futurism are many and wild, they do not often reproduce that cryptic regularity 
which lurks in prehistoric writing. And writing of some kind the bulk of these 
designs seemed certainly to be; though my memory, despite much the papers 
and collections of my uncle, failed in any way to identify this particular species, 
or even hint at its remotest affiliations. 

Above these apparent hieroglyphics was a figure of evident pictorial intent, 
though its impressionistic execution forbade a very clear idea of its nature. It 
seemed to be a sort of monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form 
which only a diseased fancy could conceive. If I say that my somewhat 
extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, 
and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A 
pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary 
wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly 
frightful. Behind the figure was a vague suggestions of a Cyclopean architectural 
background. 



274 



The writing accompanying this oddity was, aside from a stack of press cuttings, 
in Professor Angell's most recent hand; and made no pretense to Hterary style. 
What seemed to be the main document was headed "CTHULHU CULT" in 
characters painstakingly printed to avoid the erroneous reading of a word so 
unheard-of. This manuscript was divided into two sections, the first of which 
was headed "1925 - Dream and Dream Work of H.A. Wilcox, 7 Thomas St., 
Providence, R. I.", and the second, "Narrative of Inspector John R. Legrasse, 121 
Bienville St., New Orleans, La., at 1908 A. A. S. Mtg. - Notes on Same, & Prof. 
Webb's Acct." The other manuscript papers were brief notes, some of them 
accounts of the queer dreams of different persons, some of them citations from 
theosophical books and magazines (notably W. Scott-Elliot's Atlantis and the 
Lost Lemuria), and the rest comments on long-surviving secret societies and 
hidden cults, with references to passages in such mythological and 
anthropological source-books as Frazer's Golden Bough and Miss Murray's 
Witch-Cult in Western Europe. The cuttings largely alluded to outre mental 
illness and outbreaks of group folly or mania in the spring of 1925. 

The first half of the principal manuscript told a very particular tale. It appears 
that on March 1st, 1925, a thin, dark young man of neurotic and excited aspect 
had called upon Professor Angell bearing the singular clay bas-relief, which was 
then exceedingly damp and fresh. His card bore the name of Henry Anthony 
Wilcox, and my uncle had recognized him as the youngest son of an excellent 
family slightly known to him, who had latterly been studying sculpture at the 
Rhode Island School of Design and living alone at the Fleur-de-Lys Building near 
that institution. Wilcox was a precocious youth of known genius but great 
eccentricity, and had from chidhood excited attention through the strange stories 
and odd dreams he was in the habit of relating. He called himself "psychically 
hypersensitive", but the staid folk of the ancient commercial city dismissed him 
as merely "queer." Never mingling much with his kind, he had dropped 
gradually from social visibility, and was now known only to a small group of 
esthetes from other towns. Even the Providence Art Club, anxious to preserve its 
conservatism, had found him quite hopeless. 

On the ocassion of the visit, ran the professor's manuscript, the sculptor abruptly 
asked for the benefit of his host's archeological knowledge in identifying the 
hieroglyphics of the bas-relief. He spoke in a dreamy, stilted manner which 
suggested pose and alienated sympathy; and my uncle showed some sharpness 
in replying, for the conspicuous freshness of the tablet implied kinship with 
anything but archeology. Young Wilcox's rejoinder, which impressed my uncle 
enough to make him recall and record it verbatim, was of a fantastically poetic 
cast which must have typified his whole conversation, and which I have since 
found highly characteristic of him. He said, "It is new, indeed, for I made it last 



275 



night in a dream of strange cities; and dreams are older than brooding Tyre, or 
the contemplative Sphinx, or garden-girdled Babylon." 

It was then that he began that rambling tale which suddenly played upon a 
sleeping memory and won the fevered interest of my uncle. There had been a 
slight earthquake tremor the night before, the most considerable felt in New 
England for some years; and Wilcox's imagination had been keenly affected. 
Upon retiring, he had had an unprecedented dream of great Cyclopean cities of 
Titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister 
with latent horror. Hieroglyphics had covered the walls and pillars, and from 
some undetermined point below had come a voice that was not a voice; a chaotic 
sensation which only fancy could transmute into sound, but which he attempted 
to render by the almost unpronounceable jumble of letters: "Cthulhu fhtagn." 

This verbal jumble was the key to the recollection which excited and disturbed 
Professor Angell. He questioned the sculptor with scientific minuteness; and 
studied with frantic intensity the bas-relief on which the youth had found 
himself working, chilled and clad only in his night clothes, when waking had 
stolen bewilderingly over him. My uncle blamed his old age, Wilcox afterwards 
said, for his slowness in recognizing both hieroglyphics and pictorial design. 
Many of his questions seemed highly out of place to his visitor, especially those 
which tried to connect the latter with strange cults or societies; and Wilcox could 
not understand the repeated promises of silence which he was offered in 
exchange for an admission of membership in some widespread mystical or 
paganly religious body. When Professor Angell became convinced that the 
sculptor was indeed ignorant of any cult or system of cryptic lore, he besieged 
his visitor with demands for future reports of dreams. This bore regular fruit, for 
after the first interview the manuscript records daily calls of the young man, 
during which he related startling fragments of nocturnal imaginery whose 
burden was always some terrible Cyclopean vista of dark and dripping stone, 
with a subterrene voice or intelligence shouting monotonously in enigmatical 
sense-impacts uninscribable save as gibberish. The two sounds frequently 
repeated are those rendered by the letters "Cthulhu" and "R'lyeh." 

On March 23, the manuscript continued, Wilcox failed to appear; and inquiries at 
his quarters revealed that he had been stricken with an obscure sort of fever and 
taken to the home of his family in Waterman Street. He had cried out in the 
night, arousing several other artists in the building, and had manifested since 
then only alternations of unconsciousness and delirium. My uncle at once 
telephoned the family, and from that time forward kept close watch of the case; 
calling often at the Thayer Street office of Dr. Tobey, whom he learned to be in 
charge. The youth's febrile mind, apparently, was dwelling on strange things; 
and the doctor shuddered now and then as he spoke of them. They included not 



276 



only a repetition of what he had formerly dreamed, but touched wildly on a 
gigantic thing "miles high" which walked or lumbered about. 

He at no time fully described this object but occasional frantic words, as repeated 
by Dr. Tobey, convinced the professor that it must be identical with the nameless 
monstrosity he had sought to depict in his dream-sculpture. Reference to this 
object, the doctor added, was invariably a prelude to the young man's 
subsidence into lethargy. His temperature, oddly enough, was not greatly above 
normal; but the whole condition was otherwise such as to suggest true fever 
rather than mental disorder. 

On April 2 at about 3 P.M. every trace of Wilcox's malady suddenly ceased. He 
sat upright in bed, astonished to find himself at home and completely ignorant of 
what had happened in dream or reality since the night of March 22. Pronounced 
well by his physician, he returned to his quarters in three days; but to Professor 
Angell he was of no further assistance. All traces of strange dreaming had 
vanished with his recovery, and my uncle kept no record of his night-thoughts 
after a week of pointless and irrelevant accounts of thoroughly usual visions. 

Here the first part of the manuscript ended, but references to certain of the 
scattered notes gave me much material for thought - so much, in fact, that only 
the ingrained skepticism then forming my philosophy can account for my 
continued distrust of the artist. The notes in question were those descriptive of 
the dreams of various persons covering the same period as that in which young 
Wilcox had had his strange visitations. My uncle, it seems, had quickly instituted 
a prodigiously far-flung body of inquires amongst nearly all the friends whom 
he could question without impertinence, asking for nightly reports of their 
dreams, and the dates of any notable visions for some time past. The reception of 
his request seems to have varied; but he must, at the very least, have received 
more responses than any ordinary man could have handled without a secretary. 
This original correspondence was not preserved, but his notes formed a 
thorough and really significant digest. Average people in society and business - 
New England's traditional "salt of the earth" - gave an almost completely 
negative result, though scattered cases of uneasy but formless nocturnal 
impressions appear here and there, always between March 23 and and April 2 - 
the period of young Wilcox's delirium. Scientific men were little more affected, 
though four cases of vague description suggest fugitive glimpses of strange 
landscapes, and in one case there is mentioned a dread of something abnormal. 

It was from the artists and poets that the pertinent answers came, and I know 
that panic would have broken loose had they been able to compare notes. As it 
was, lacking their original letters, I half suspected the compiler of having asked 
leading questions, or of having edited the correspondence in corroboration of 



277 



what he had latently resolved to see. That is why I continued to feel that Wilcox, 
somehow cognizant of the old data which my uncle had possessed, had been 
imposing on the veteran scientist. These responses from esthetes told disturbing 
tale. From February 28 to April 2 a large proportion of them had dreamed very 
bizarre things, the intensity of the dreams being immeasurably the stronger 
during the period of the sculptor's delirium. Over a fourth of those who reported 
anything, reported scenes and half-sounds not unlike those which Wilcox had 
described; and some of the dreamers confessed acute fear of the gigantic 
nameless thing visible toward the last. One case, which the note describes with 
emphasis, was very sad. The subject, a widely known architect with leanings 
toward theosophy and occultism, went violently insane on the date of young 
Wilcox's seizure, and expired several months later after incessant screamings to 
be saved from some escaped denizen of hell. Had my uncle referred to these 
cases by name instead of merely by number, I should have attempted some 
corroboration and personal investigation; but as it was, I succeeded in tracing 
down only a few. All of these, however, bore out the notes in full. I have often 
wondered if all the the objects of the professor's questioning felt as puzzled as 
did this fraction. It is well that no explanation shall ever reach them. 

The press cuttings, as I have intimated, touched on cases of panic, mania, and 
eccentricity during the given period. Professor Angell must have employed a 
cutting bureau, for the number of extracts was tremendous, and the sources 
scattered throughout the globe. Here was a nocturnal suicide in London, where a 
lone sleeper had leaped from a window after a shocking cry. Here likewise a 
rambling letter to the editor of a paper in South America, where a fanatic 
deduces a dire future from visions he has seen. A dispatch from California 
describes a theosophist colony as donning white robes en masse for some 
"glorious fulfiment" which never arrives, whilst items from India speak 
guardedly of serious native unrest toward the end of March 22-23. 

The west of Ireland, too, is full of wild rumour and legendry, and a fantastic 
painter named Ardois-Bonnot hangs a blasphemous Dream Landscape in the 
Paris spring salon of 1926. And so numerous are the recorded troubles in insane 
asylums that only a miracle can have stopped the medical fraternity from noting 
strange parallelisms and drawing mystified conclusions. A weird bunch of 
cuttings, all told; and I can at this date scarcely envisage the callous rationalism 
with which I set them aside. But I was then convinced that young Wilcox had 
known of the older matters mentioned by the professor. 

II. The Tale of Inspector Legrasse. 

The older matters which had made the sculptor's dream and bas-relief so 
significant to my uncle formed the subject of the second half of his long 



278 



manuscript. Once before, it appears. Professor Angell had seen the helHsh 
outhnes of the nameless monstrosity, puzzled over the unknown hieroglyphics, 
and heard the ominous syllables which can be rendered only as "Cthulhu"; and 
all this in so stirring and horrible a connexion that it is small wonder he pursued 
young Wilcox with queries and demands for data. 

This earlier experience had come in 1908, seventeen years before, when the 
American Archaeological Society held its annual meeting in St. Louis. Professor 
Angell, as befitted one of his authority and attainments, had had a prominent 
part in all the deliberations; and was one of the first to be approached by the 
several outsiders who took advantage of the convocation to offer questions for 
correct answering and problems for expert solution. 

The chief of these outsiders, and in a short time the focus of interest for the entire 
meeting, was a commonplace-looking middle-aged man who had travelled all 
the way from New Orleans for certain special information unobtainable from any 
local source. His name was John Raymond Legrasse, and he was by profession 
an Inspector of Police. With him he bore the subject of his visit, a grotesque, 
repulsive, and apparently very ancient stone statuette whose origin he was at a 
loss to determine. It must not be fancied that Inspector Legrasse had the least 
interest in archaeology. On the contrary, his wish for enlightenment was 
prompted by purely professional considerations. The statuette, idol, fetish, or 
whatever it was, had been captured some months before in the wooded swamps 
south of New Orleans during a raid on a supposed voodoo meeting; and so 
singular and hideous were the rites connected with it, that the police could not 
but realise that they had stumbled on a dark cult totally unknown to them, and 
infinitely more diabolic than even the blackest of the African voodoo circles. Of 
its origin, apart from the erratic and unbelievable tales extorted from the 
captured members, absolutely nothing was to be discovered; hence the anxiety of 
the police for any antiquarian lore which might help them to place the frightful 
symbol, and through it track down the cult to its fountain-head. 

Inspector Legrasse was scarcely prepared for the sensation which his offering 
created. One sight of the thing had been enough to throw the assembled men of 
science into a state of tense excitement, and they lost no time in crowding around 
him to gaze at the diminutive figure whose utter strangeness and air of 
genuinely abysmal antiquity hinted so potently at unopened and archaic vistas. 
No recognised school of sculpture had animated this terrible object, yet centuries 
and even thousands of years seemed recorded in its dim and greenish surface of 
unplaceable stone. 

The figure, which was finally passed slowly from man to man for close and 
careful study, was between seven and eight inches in height, and of exquisitely 



279 



artistic workmanship. It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outHne, 
but with an octopus-Hke head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery- 
looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings 
behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural 
malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a 
rectangular block or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters. The tips of 
the wings touched the back edge of the block, the seat occupied the centre, whilst 
the long, curved claws of the doubled-up, crouching hind legs gripped the front 
edge and extended a quarter of the way clown toward the bottom of the 
pedestal. The cephalopod head was bent forward, so that the ends of the facial 
feelers brushed the backs of huge fore paws which clasped the croucher's 
elevated knees. The aspect of the whole was abnormally life-like, and the more 
subtly fearful because its source was so totally unknown. Its vast, awesome, and 
incalculable age was unmistakable; yet not one link did it shew with any known 
type of art belonging to civilisation's youth - or indeed to any other time. Totally 
separate and apart, its very material was a mystery; for the soapy, greenish-black 
stone with its golden or iridescent flecks and striations resembled nothing 
familiar to geology or mineralogy. The characters along the base were equally 
baffling; and no member present, despite a representation of half the world's 
expert learning in this field, could form the least notion of even their remotest 
linguistic kinship. They, like the subject and material, belonged to something 
horribly remote and distinct from mankind as we know it. something frightfully 
suggestive of old and unhallowed cycles of life in which our world and our 
conceptions have no part. 

And yet, as the members severally shook their heads and confessed defeat at the 
Inspector's problem, there was one man in that gathering who suspected a touch 
of bizarre familiarity in the monstrous shape and writing, and who presently 
told with some diffidence of the odd trifle he knew. This person was the late 
William Channing Webb, Professor of Anthropology in Princeton University, 
and an explorer of no slight note. Professor Webb had been engaged, forty-eight 
years before, in a tour of Greenland and Iceland in search of some Runic 
inscriptions which he failed to unearth; and whilst high up on the West 
Greenland coast had encountered a singular tribe or cult of degenerate 
Esquimaux whose religion, a curious form of devil-worship, chilled him with its 
deliberate bloodthirstiness and repulsiveness. It was a faith of which other 
Esquimaux knew little, and which they mentioned only with shudders, saying 
that it had come down from horribly ancient aeons before ever the world was 
made. Besides nameless rites and human sacrifices there were certain queer 
hereditary rituals addressed to a supreme elder devil or tornasuk; and of this 
Professor Webb had taken a careful phonetic copy from an aged angekok or 
wizard-priest, expressing the sounds in Roman letters as best he knew how. But 
just now of prime significance was the fetish which this cult had cherished, and 



280 



around which they danced when the aurora leaped high over the ice chffs. It 
was, the professor stated, a very crude bas-rehef of stone, comprising a hideous 
picture and some cryptic writing. And so far as he could tell, it was a rough 
parallel in all essential features of the bestial thing now lying before the meeting. 

This data, received with suspense and astonishment by the assembled members, 
proved doubly exciting to Inspector Legrasse; and he began at once to ply his 
informant with questions. Having noted and copied an oral ritual among the 
swamp cult-worshippers his men had arrested, he besought the professor to 
remember as best he might the syllables taken down amongst the diabolist 
Esquimaux. There then followed an exhaustive comparison of details, and a 
moment of really awed silence when both detective and scientist agreed on the 
virtual identity of the phrase common to two hellish rituals so many worlds of 
distance apart. What, in substance, both the Esquimaux wizards and the 
Louisiana swamp-priests had chanted to their kindred idols was something very 
like this: the word-divisions being guessed at from traditional breaks in the 
phrase as chanted aloud: 

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn." 

Legrasse had one point in advance of Professor Webb, for several among his 
mongrel prisoners had repeated to him what older celebrants had told them the 
words meant. This text, as given, ran something like this: 

"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming." 

And now, in response to a general and urgent demand. Inspector Legrasse 
related as fully as possible his experience with the swamp worshippers; telling a 
story to which I could see my uncle attached profound significance. It savoured 
of the wildest dreams of myth-maker and theosophist, and disclosed an 
astonishing degree of cosmic imagination among such half-castes and pariahs as 
might be least expected to possess it. 

On November 1st, 1907, there had come to the New Orleans police a frantic 
summons from the swamp and lagoon country to the south. The squatters there, 
mostly primitive but good-natured descendants of Lafitte's men, were in the grip 
of stark terror from an unknown thing which had stolen upon them in the night. 
It was voodoo, apparently, but voodoo of a more terrible sort than they had ever 
known; and some of their women and children had disappeared since the 
malevolent tom-tom had begun its incessant beating far within the black haunted 
woods where no dweller ventured. There were insane shouts and harrowing 
screams, soul-chilling chants and dancing devil-flames; and, the frightened 
messenger added, the people could stand it no more. 



281 



So a body of twenty police, filling two carriages and an automobile, had set out 
in the late afternoon with the shivering squatter as a guide. At the end of the 
passable road they alighted, and for miles splashed on in silence through the 
terrible cypress woods where day never came. Ugly roots and malignant 
hanging nooses of Spanish moss beset them, and now and then a pile of dank 
stones or fragment of a rotting wall intensified by its hint of morbid habitation a 
depression which every malformed tree and every fungous islet combined to 
create. At length the squatter settlement, a miserable huddle of huts, hove in 
sight; and hysterical dwellers ran out to cluster around the group of bobbing 
lanterns. The muffled beat of tom-toms was now faintly audible far, far ahead; 
and a curdling shriek came at infrequent intervals when the wind shifted. A 
reddish glare, too, seemed to filter through pale undergrowth beyond the endless 
avenues of forest night. Reluctant even to be left alone again, each one of the 
cowed squatters refused point-blank to advance another inch toward the scene of 
unholy worship, so Inspector Legrasse and his nineteen colleagues plunged on 
unguided into black arcades of horror that none of them had ever trod before. 

The region now entered by the police was one of traditionally evil repute, 
substantially unknown and untraversed by white men. There were legends of a 
hidden lake unglimpsed by mortal sight, in which dwelt a huge, formless white 
polypous thing with luminous eyes; and squatters whispered that bat-winged 
devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worship it at midnight. They said 
it had been there before d'Iberville, before La Salle, before the Indians, and before 
even the wholesome beasts and birds of the woods. It was nightmare itself, and 
to see it was to die. But it made men dream, and so they knew enough to keep 
away. The present voodoo orgy was, indeed, on the merest fringe of this 
abhorred area, but that location was bad enough; hence perhaps the very place of 
the worship had terrified the squatters more than the shocking sounds and 
incidents. 

Only poetry or madness could do justice to the noises heard by Legrasse's men 
as they ploughed on through the black morass toward the red glare and muffled 
tom-toms. There are vocal qualities peculiar to men, and vocal qualities peculiar 
to beasts; and it is terrible to hear the one when the source should yield the other. 
Animal fury and orgiastic license here whipped themselves to daemoniac heights 
by howls and squawking ecstacies that tore and reverberated through those 
nighted woods like pestilential tempests from the gulfs of hell. Now and then the 
less organized ululation would cease, and from what seemed a well-drilled 
chorus of hoarse voices would rise in sing-song chant that hideous phrase or 
ritual: 

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn." 



282 



Then the men, having reached a spot where the trees were thinner, came 
suddenly in sight of the spectacle itself. Four of them reeled, one fainted, and two 
were shaken into a frantic cry which the mad cacophony of the orgy fortunately 
deadened. Legrasse dashed swamp water on the face of the fainting man, and all 
stood trembling and nearly hypnotised with horror. 

In a natural glade of the swamp stood a grassy island of perhaps an acre's extent, 
clear of trees and tolerably dry. On this now leaped and twisted a more 
indescribable horde of human abnormality than any but a Sime or an Angarola 
could paint. Void of clothing, this hybrid spawn were braying, bellowing, and 
writhing about a monstrous ring-shaped bonfire; in the centre of which, revealed 
by occasional rifts in the curtain of flame, stood a great granite monolith some 
eight feet in height; on top of which, incongruous in its diminutiveness, rested 
the noxious carven statuette. From a wide circle of ten scaffolds set up at regular 
intervals with the flame-girt monolith as a centre hung, head downward, the 
oddly marred bodies of the helpless squatters who had disappeared. It was 
inside this circle that the ring of worshippers jumped and roared, the general 
direction of the mass motion being from left to right in endless Bacchanal 
between the ring of bodies and the ring of fire. 

It may have been only imagination and it may have been only echoes which 
induced one of the men, an excitable Spaniard, to fancy he heard antiphonal 
responses to the ritual from some far and unillumined spot deeper within the 
wood of ancient legendry and horror. This man, Joseph D. Galvez, I later met 
and questioned; and he proved distractingly imaginative. He indeed went so far 
as to hint of the faint beating of great wings, and of a glimpse of shining eyes and 
a mountainous white bulk beyond the remotest trees but I suppose he had been 
hearing too much native superstition. 

Actually, the horrified pause of the men was of comparatively brief duration. 
Duty came first; and although there must have been nearly a hundred mongrel 
celebrants in the throng, the police relied on their firearms and plunged 
determinedly into the nauseous rout. For five minutes the resultant din and 
chaos were beyond description. Wild blows were struck, shots were fired, and 
escapes were made; but in the end Legrasse was able to count some forty-seven 
sullen prisoners, whom he forced to dress in haste and fall into line between two 
rows of policemen. Five of the worshippers lay dead, and two severely wounded 
ones were carried away on improvised stretchers by their fellow-prisoners. The 
image on the monolith, of course, was carefully removed and carried back by 
Legrasse. 

Examined at headquarters after a trip of intense strain and weariness, the 
prisoners all proved to be men of a very low, mixed-blooded, and mentally 



283 



aberrant type. Most were seamen, and a sprinkling of Negroes and mulattoes, 
largely West Indians or Brava Portuguese from the Cape Verde Islands, gave a 
colouring of voodooism to the heterogeneous cult. But before many questions 
were asked, it became manifest that something far deeper and older than Negro 
fetishism was involved. Degraded and ignorant as they were, the creatures held 
with surprising consistency to the central idea of their loathsome faith. 

They worshipped, so they said, the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there 
were any men, and who came to the young world out of the sky. Those Old Ones 
were gone now, inside the earth and under the sea; but their dead bodies had 
told their secrets in dreams to the first men, who formed a cult which had never 
died. This was that cult, and the prisoners said it had always existed and always 
would exist, hidden in distant wastes and dark places all over the world until the 
time when the great priest Cthulhu, from his dark house in the mighty city of 
R'lyeh under the waters, should rise and bring the earth again beneath his sway. 
Some day he would call, when the stars were ready, and the secret cult would 
always be waiting to liberate him. 

Meanwhile no more must be told. There was a secret which even torture could 
not extract. Mankind was not absolutely alone among the conscious things of 
earth, for shapes came out of the dark to visit the faithful few. But these were not 
the Great Old Ones. No man had ever seen the Old Ones. The carven idol was 
great Cthulhu, but none might say whether or not the others were precisely like 
him. No one could read the old writing now, but things were told by word of 
mouth. The chanted ritual was not the secret - that was never spoken aloud, only 
whispered. The chant meant only this: "In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu 
waits dreaming." 

Only two of the prisoners were found sane enough to be hanged, and the rest 
were committed to various institutions. All denied a part in the ritual murders, 
and averred that the killing had been done by Black Winged Ones which had 
come to them from their immemorial meeting-place in the haunted wood. But of 
those mysterious allies no coherent account could ever be gained. What the 
police did extract, came mainly from the immensely aged mestizo named Castro, 
who claimed to have sailed to strange ports and talked with undying leaders of 
the cult in the mountains of China. 

Old Castro remembered bits of hideous legend that paled the speculations of 
theosophists and made man and the world seem recent and transient indeed. 
There had been aeons when other Things ruled on the earth, and They had had 
great cities. Remains of Them, he said the deathless Chinamen had told him, 
were still be found as Cyclopean stones on islands in the Pacific. They all died 
vast epochs of time before men came, but there were arts which could revive 



284 



Them when the stars had come round again to the right positions in the cycle of 
eternity. They had, indeed, come themselves from the stars, and brought Their 
images with Them. 

These Great Old Ones, Castro continued, were not composed altogether of flesh 
and blood. They had shape - for did not this star-fashioned image prove it? - but 
that shape was not made of matter. When the stars were right. They could 
plunge from world to world through the sky; but when the stars were wrong. 
They could not live. But although They no longer lived. They would never really 
die. They all lay in stone houses in Their great city of R'lyeh, preserved by the 
spells of mighty Cthulhu for a glorious surrection when the stars and the earth 
might once more be ready for Them. But at that time some force from outside 
must serve to liberate Their bodies. The spells that preserved them intact 
likewise prevented Them from making an initial move, and They could only lie 
awake in the dark and think whilst uncounted millions of years rolled by. They 
knew all that was occurring in the universe, for Their mode of speech was 
transmitted thought. Even now They talked in Their tombs. When, after infinities 
of chaos, the first men came, the Great Old Ones spoke to the sensitive among 
them by moulding their dreams; for only thus could Their language reach the 
fleshly minds of mammals. 

Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around tall idols which 
the Great Ones shewed them; idols brought in dim eras from dark stars. That cult 
would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take 
great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. 
The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the 
Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals 
thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the 
liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and 
enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and 
freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory 
of those ancient ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return. 

In the elder time chosen men had talked with the entombed Old Ones in dreams, 
but then something happened. The great stone city R'lyeh, with its monoliths 
and sepulchres, had sunk beneath the waves; and the deep waters, full of the one 
primal mystery through which not even thought can pass, had cut off the 
spectral intercourse. But memory never died, and the high-priests said that the 
city would rise again when the stars were right. Then came out of the earth the 
black spirits of earth, mouldy and shadowy, and full of dim rumours picked up 
in caverns beneath forgotten sea-bottoms. But of them old Castro dared not 
speak much. He cut himself off hurriedly, and no amount of persuasion or 
subtlety could elicit more in this direction. The size of the Old Ones, too, he 



285 



curiously declined to mention. Of the cult, he said that he thought the centre lay 
amid the pathless desert of Arabia, where Irem, the City of Pillars, dreams 
hidden and untouched. It was not allied to the European witch-cult, and was 
virtually unknown beyond its members. No book had ever really hinted of it, 
though the deathless Chinamen said that there were double meanings in the 
Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred which the initiated might read 
as they chose, especially the much-discussed couplet: 

That is not dead which can eternal lie. 

And with strange aeons even death may die. 

Legrasse, deeply impressed and not a little bewildered, had inquired in vain 
concerning the historic affiliations of the cult. Castro, apparently, had told the 
truth when he said that it was wholly secret. The authorities at Tulane University 
could shed no light upon either cult or image, and now the detective had come to 
the highest authorities in the country and met with no more than the Greenland 
tale of Professor Webb. 

The feverish interest aroused at the meeting by Legrasse's tale, corroborated as it 
was by the statuette, is echoed in the subsequent correspondence of those who 
attended; although scant mention occurs in the formal publications of the society. 
Caution is the first care of those accustomed to face occasional charlatanry and 
imposture. Legrasse for some time lent the image to Professor Webb, but at the 
latter's death it was returned to him and remains in his possession, where I 
viewed it not long ago. It is truly a terrible thing, and unmistakably akin to the 
dream-sculpture of young Wilcox. 

That my uncle was excited by the tale of the sculptor I did not wonder, for what 
thoughts must arise upon hearing, after a knowledge of what Legrasse had 
learned of the cult, of a sensitive young man who had dreamed not only the 
figure and exact hieroglyphics of the swamp-found image and the Greenland 
devil tablet, but had come in his dreams upon at least three of the precise words 
of the formula uttered alike by Esquimaux diabolists and mongrel Louisianans?. 
Professor Angell's instant start on an investigation of the utmost thoroughness 
was eminently natural; though privately I suspected young Wilcox of having 
heard of the cult in some indirect way, and of having invented a series of dreams 
to heighten and continue the mystery at my uncle's expense. The dream- 
narratives and cuttings collected by the professor were, of course, strong 
corroboration; but the rationalism of my mind and the extravagance of the whole 
subject led me to adopt what I thought the most sensible conclusions. So, after 
thoroughly studying the manuscript again and correlating the theosophical and 
anthropological notes with the cult narrative of Legrasse, I made a trip to 



286 



Providence to see the sculptor and give him the rebuke I thought proper for so 
boldly imposing upon a learned and aged man. 

Wilcox still lived alone in the Fleur-de-Lys Building in Thomas Street, a hideous 
Victorian imitation of seventeenth century Breton Architecture which flaunts its 
stuccoed front amidst the lovely olonial houses on the ancient hill, and under the 
very shadow of the finest Georgian steeple in America, I found him at work in 
his rooms, and at once conceded from the specimens scattered about that his 
genius is indeed profound and authentic. He will, I believe, some time be heard 
from as one of the great decadents; for he has crystallised in clay and will one 
day mirror in marble those nightmares and phantasies which Arthur Machen 
evokes in prose, and Clark Ashton Smith makes visible in verse and in painting. 

Dark, frail, and somewhat unkempt in aspect, he turned languidly at my knock 
and asked me my business without rising. Then I told him who I was, he 
displayed some interest; for my uncle had excited his curiosity in probing his 
strange dreams, yet had never explained the reason for the study. I did not 
enlarge his knowledge in this regard, but sought with some subtlety to draw him 
out. In a short time I became convinced ofhis absolute sincerity, for he spoke of 
the dreams in a manner none could mistake. They and their subconscious 
residuum had influenced his art profoundly, and he shewed me a morbid statue 
whose contours almost made me shake with the potency of its black suggestion. 
He could not recall having seen the original of this thing except in his own dream 
bas-relief, but the outlines had formed themselves insensibly under his hands. It 
was, no doubt, the giant shape he had raved of in delirium. That he really knew 
nothing of the hidden cult, save from what my uncle's relentless catechism had 
let fall, he soon made clear; and again I strove to think of some way in which he 
could possibly have received the weird impressions. 

He talked of his dreams in a strangely poetic fashion; making me see with 
terrible vividness the damp Cyclopean city of slimy green stone - whose 
geometry, he oddly said, was all wrong - and hear with frightened expectancy 
the ceaseless, half-mental calling from underground: "Cthulhu fhtagn", 
"Cthulhu fhtagn." 

These words had formed part of that dread ritual which told of dead Cthulhu's 
dream-vigil in his stone vault at R'lyeh, and I felt deeply moved despite my 
rational beliefs. Wilcox, I was sure, had heard of the cult in some casual way, and 
had soon forgotten it amidst the mass of his equally weird reading and 
imagining. Later, by virtue of its sheer impressiveness, it had found subconscious 
expression in dreams, in the bas-relief, and in the terrible statue I now beheld; so 
that his imposture upon my uncle had been a very innocent one. The youth was 
of a type, at once slightly affected and slightly ill-mannered, which I could never 



287 



like, but I was willing enough now to admit both his genius and his honesty. I 
took leave of him amicably, and wish him all the success his talent promises. 

The matter of the cult still remained to fascinate me, and at times I had visions of 
personal fame from researches into its origin and connexions. I visited New 
Orleans, talked with Legrasse and others of that old-time raiding-party, saw the 
frightful image, and even questioned such of the mongrel prisoners as still 
survived. Old Castro, unfortunately, had been dead for some years. What I now 
heard so graphically at first-hand, though it was really no more than a detailed 
confirmation of what my uncle had written, excited me afresh; for I felt sure that 
I was on the track of a very real, very secret, and very ancient religion whose 
discovery would make me an anthropologist of note. My attitude was still one of 
absolute materialism, as 1 wish it still were, and I discounted with almost 
inexplicable perversity the coincidence of the dream notes and odd cuttings 
collected by Professor Angell. 

One thing I began to suspect, and which I now fear I know, is that my uncle's 
death was far from natural. He fell on a narrow hill street leading up from an 
ancient waterfront swarming with foreign mongrels, after a careless push from a 
Negro sailor. I did not forget the mixed blood and marine pursuits of the cult- 
members in Louisiana, and would not be surprised to learn of secret methods 
and rites and beliefs. Legrasse and his men, it is true, have been let alone; but in 
Norway a certain seaman who saw things is dead. Might not the deeper inquiries 
of my uncle after encountering the sculptor's data have come to sinister ears?. I 
think Professor Angell died because he knew too much, or because he was likely 
to learn too much. Whether I shall go as he did remains to be seen, for I have 
learned much now. 

III. The Madness from the Sea 

If heaven ever wishes to grant me a boon, it will be a total effacing of the results 
of a mere chance which fixed my eye on a certain stray piece of shelf-paper. It 
was nothing on which I would naturally have stumbled in the course of my daily 
round, for it was an old number of an Australian journal, the Sydney Bulletin for 
April 18, 1925. It had escaped even the cutting bureau which had at the time of 
its issuance been avidly collecting material for my uncle's research. 

I had largely given over my inquiries into what Professor Angell called the 
"Cthulhu Cult", and was visiting a learned friend in Pater son. New Jersey; the 
curator of a local museum and a mineralogist of note. Examining one day the 
reserve specimens roughly set on the storage shelves in a rear room of the 
museum, my eye was caught by an odd picture in one of the old papers spread 
beneath the stones. It was the Sydney Bulletin I have mentioned, for my friend 



288 



had wide affiliations in all conceivable foreign parts; and the picture was a half- 
tone cut of a hideous stone image almost identical with that which Legrasse had 
found in the swamp. 

Eagerly clearing the sheet of its precious contents, I scanned the item in detail; 
and was disappointed to find it of only moderate length. What it suggested, 
however, was of portentous significance to my flagging quest; and I carefully 
tore it out for immediate action. It read as follows: 

MYSTERY DERELICT FOUND AT SEA 

Vigilant Arrives With Helpless Armed New Zealand Yacht in Tow. One Survivor 
and Dead Man Found Aboard. Tale of Desperate Battle and Deaths at Sea. 
Rescued Seaman Refuses Particulars of Strange Experience. Odd Idol Found in 
His Possession. Inquiry to Follow. 

The Morrison Co.'s freighter Vigilant, bound from Valparaiso, arrived this 
morning at its wharf in Darling Harbour, having in tow the battled and disabled 
but heavily armed steam yacht Alert of Dunedin, N.Z., which was sighted April 
12th in S. Latitude 34°21', W. Longitude 152°17', with one living and one dead 
man aboard. 

The Vigilant left Valparaiso March 25th, and on April 2nd was driven 
considerably south of her course by exceptionally heavy storms and monster 
waves. On April 12th the derelict was sighted; and though apparently deserted, 
was found upon boarding to contain one survivor in a half-delirious condition 
and one man who had evidently been dead for more than a week. The living 
man was clutching a horrible stone idol of unknown origin, about foot in height, 
regarding whose nature authorities at Sydney University, the Royal Society, and 
the Museum in College Street all profess complete bafflement, and which the 
survivor says he found in the cabin of the yacht, in a small carved shrine of 
common pattern. 

This man, after recovering his senses, told an exceedingly strange story of piracy 
and slaughter. He is Gustaf Johansen, a Norwegian of some intelligence, and had 
been second mate of the two-masted schooner Emma of Auckland, which sailed 
for Callao February 20th with a complement of eleven men. The Emma, he says, 
was delayed and thrown widely south of her course by the great storm of March 
1st, and on March 22nd, in S. Latitude 49°51' W. Longitude 128°34', encountered 
the Alert, manned by a queer and evil-looking crew of Kanakas and half-castes. 
Being ordered peremptorily to turn back, Capt. Collins refused; whereupon the 
strange crew began to fire savagely and without warning upon the schooner 
with a peculiarly heavy battery of brass cannon forming part of the yacht's 



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equipment. The Emma's men shewed fight, says the survivor, and though the 
schooner began to sink from shots beneath the water-hne they managed to heave 
alongside their enemy and board her, grappHng with the savage crew on the 
yacht's deck, and being forced to kill them all, the number being slightly 
superior, because of their particularly abhorrent and desperate though rather 
clumsy mode of fighting. 

Three of the Emma's men, including Capt. Collins and First Mate Green, were 
killed; and the remaining eight under Second Mate Johansen proceeded to 
navigate the captured yacht, going ahead in their original direction to see if any 
reason for their ordering back had existed. The next day, it appears, they raised 
and landed on a small island, although none is known to exist in that part of the 
ocean; and six of the men somehow died ashore, though Johansen is queerly 
reticent about this part of his story, and speaks only of their falling into a rock 
chasm. Later, it seems, he and one companion boarded the yacht and tried to 
manage her, but were beaten about by the storm of April 2nd, From that time till 
his rescue on the 12th the man remembers little, and he does not even recall 
when William Briden, his companion, died. Briden's death reveals no apparent 
cause, and was probably due to excitement or exposure. Cable advices from 
Dunedin report that the Alert was well known there as an island trader, and bore 
an evil reputation along the waterfront. It was owned by a curious group of half- 
castes whose frequent meetings and night trips to the woods attracted no little 
curiosity; and it had set sail in great haste just after the storm and earth tremors 
of March 1st. Our Auckland correspondent gives the Emma and her crew an 
excellent reputation, and Johansen is described as a sober and worthy man. The 
admiralty will institute an inquiry on the whole matter beginning tomorrow, at 
which every effort will be made to induce Johansen to speak more freely than he 
has done hitherto. 

This was all, together with the picture of the hellish image; but what a train of 
ideas it started in my mind! Here were new treasuries of data on the Cthulhu 
Cult, and evidence that it had strange interests at sea as well as on land. What 
motive prompted the hybrid crew to order back the Emma as they sailed about 
with their hideous idol? What was the unknown island on which six of the 
Emma's crew had died, and about which the mate Johansen was so secretive? 
What had the vice-admiralty's investigation brought out, and what was known 
of the noxious cult in Dunedin? And most marvellous of all, what deep and more 
than natural linkage of dates was this which gave a malign and now undeniable 
significance to the various turns of events so carefully noted by my uncle? 

March 1st - or February 28th according to the International Date Line - the 
earthquake and storm had come. From Dunedin the Alert and her noisome crew 
had darted eagerly forth as if imperiously summoned, and on the other side of 



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the earth poets and artists had begun to dream of a strange, dank Cyclopean city 
whilst a young sculptor had moulded in his sleep the form of the dreaded 
Cthulhu. March 23rd the crew of the Emma landed on an unknown island and 
left six men dead; and on that date the dreams of sensitive men assumed a 
heightened vividness and darkened with dread of a giant monster's malign 
pursuit, whilst an architect had gone mad and a sculptor had lapsed suddenly 
into delirium! And what of this storm of April 2nd - the date on which all dreams 
of the dank city ceased, and Wilcox emerged unharmed from the bondage of 
strange fever? What of all this - and of those hints of old Castro about the 
sunken, star-born Old Ones and their coming reign; their faithful cult and their 
mastery of dreams? Was I tottering on the brink of cosmic horrors beyond man's 
power to bear? If so, they must be horrors of the mind alone, for in some way the 
second of April had put a stop to whatever monstrous menace had begun its 
siege of mankind's soul. 

That evening, after a day of hurried cabling and arranging, I bade my host adieu 
and took a train for San Francisco. In less than a month I was in Dunedin; where, 
however, I found that little was known of the strange cult-members who had 
lingered in the old sea-taverns. Waterfront scum was far too common for special 
mentnon; though there was vague talk about one inland trip these mongrels had 
made, during which faint drumming and red flame were noted on the distant 
hills. In Auckland I learned that Johansen had returned with yellow hair turned 
white after a perfunctory and inconclusive questioning at Sydney, and had 
thereafter sold his cottage in West Street and sailed with his wife to his old home 
in Oslo. Of his stirring experience he would tell his friends no more than he had 
told the admiralty officials, and all they could do was to give me his Oslo 
address. 

After that I went to Sydney and talked profitlessly with seamen and members of 
the vice-admiralty court. I saw the Alert, now sold and in commercial use, at 
Circular Quay in Sydney Cove, but gained nothing from its non-committal bulk. 
The crouching image with its cuttlefish head, dragon body, scaly wings, and 
hieroglyphed pedestal, was preserved in the Museum at Hyde Park; and I 
studied it long and well, finding it a thing of balefully exquisite workmanship, 
and with the same utter mystery, terrible antiquity, and unearthly strangeness of 
material which I had noted in Legrasse's smaller specimen. Geologists, the 
curator told me, had found it a monstrous puzzle; for they vowed that the world 
held no rock like it. Then I thought with a shudder of what Old Castro had told 
Legrasse about the Old Ones; "They had come from the stars, and had brought 
Their images with Them." 

Shaken with such a mental revolution as I had never before known, I now 
resolved to visit Mate Johansen in Oslo. Sailing for London, I reembarked at once 



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for the Norwegian capital; and one autumn day landed at the trim wharves in 
the shadow of the Egeberg. Johansen's address, I discovered, lay in the Old 
Town of King Harold Haardrada, which kept alive the name of Oslo during all 
the centuries that the greater city masqueraded as "Christiana." I made the brief 
trip by taxicab, and knocked with palpitant heart at the door of a neat and 
ancient building with plastered front. A sad-faced woman in black answered my 
summons, and I was stung th disappointment when she told me in halting 
English that Gustaf Johansen was no more. 

He had not long survived his return, said his wife, for the doings sea in 1925 had 
broken him. He had told her no more than he told the public, but had left a long 
manuscript - of "technical matters" as he said - written in English, evidently in 
order to guard her from the peril of casual perusal. During a walk rough a 
narrow lane near the Gothenburg dock, a bundle of papers falling from an attic 
window had knocked him down. Two Lascar sailors at once helped him to his 
feet, but before the ambulance could reach him he was dead. Physicians found 
no adequate cause the end, and laid it to heart trouble and a weakened 
constitution. I now felt gnawing at my vitals that dark terror which will never 
leave me till I, too, am at rest; "accidentally" or otherwise. Persuad-g the widow 
that my connexion with her husband's "technical matters" was sufficient to 
entitle me to his manuscript, I bore the document away and began to read it on 
the London boat. 

It was a simple, rambling thing - a naive sailor's effort at a post-facto diary - and 
strove to recall day by day that last awful voyage. I cannot attempt to transcribe 
it verbatim in all its cloudiness and redundance, but I will tell its gist enough to 
shew why the sound the water against the vessel's sides became so unendurable 
to me that I stopped my ears with cotton. 

Johansen, thank God, did not know quite all, even though he saw the city and 
the Thing, but I shall never sleep calmly again when I think of the horrors that 
lurk ceaselessly behind life in time and in space, and of those unhallowed 
blasphemies from elder stars which dream beneath the sea, known and favoured 
by a nightmare cult ready and eager to loose them upon the world whenever 
another earthquake shall heave their monstrous stone city again to the sun and 
air. 

Johansen's voyage had begun just as he told it to the vice-admiralty. The Emma, 
in ballast, had cleared Auckland on February 20th, and had felt the full force of 
that earthquake-born tempest which must have heaved up from the sea-bottom 
the horrors that filled men's dreams. Once more under control, the ship was 
making good progress when held up by the Alert on March 22nd, and I could 
feel the mate's regret as he wrote of her bombardment and sinking. Of the 



292 



swarthy cult-fiends on the Alert he speaks with significant horror. There was 
some peculiarly abominable quality about them which made their destruction 
seem almost a duty, and Johansen shews ingenuous wonder at the charge of 
ruthlessness brought against his party during the proceedings of the court of 
inquiry. Then, driven ahead by curiosity in their captured yacht under 
Johansen's command, the men sight a great stone pillar sticking out of the sea, 
and in S. Latitude 47°9', W. Longitude 123°43', come upon a coastline of mingled 
mud, ooze, and weedy Cyclopean masonry which can be nothing less than the 
tangible substance of earth's supreme terror - the nightmare corpse-city of 
R'lyeh, that was built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome 
shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his 
hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults and sending out at last, after cycles 
incalculable, the thoughts that spread fear to the dreams of the sensitive and 
called imperiously to the faithfull to come on a pilgrimage of liberation and 
restoration. All this Johansen did not suspect, but God knows he soon saw 
enough! 

I suppose that only a single mountain-top, the hideous monolith-crowned citadel 
whereon great Cthulhu was buried, actually emerged from the waters. When I 
think of the extent of all that may be brooding down there I almost wish to kill 
myself forthwith. Johansen and his men were awed by the cosmic majesty of this 
dripping Babylon of elder daemons, and must have guessed without guidance 
that it was nothing of this or of any sane planet. Awe at the unbelievable size of 
the greenish stone blocks, at the dizzying height of the great carven monolith, 
and at the stupefying identity of the colossal statues and bas-reliefs with the 
queer image found in the shrine on the Alert, is poignantly visible in every line 
of the mates frightened description. 

Without knowing what futurism is like, Johansen achieved something very close 
to it when he spoke of the city; for instead of describing any definite structure or 
building, he dwells only on broad impressions of vast angles and stone surfaces - 
surfaces too great to belong to anything right or proper for this earth, and 
impious with horrible images and hieroglyphs. I mention his talk about angles 
because it suggests something Wilcox had told me of his awful dreams. He said 
that the geometry of the dream-place he saw was abnormal, non-Euclidean, and 
loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours. Now an 
unlettered seaman felt the same thing whilst gazing at the terrible reality. 

Johansen and his men landed at a sloping mud-bank on this monstrous 
Acropolis, and clambered slipperily up over titan oozy blocks which could have 
been no mortal staircase. The very sun of heaven seemed distorted when viewed 
through the polarising miasma welling out from this sea-soaked perversion, and 
twisted menace and suspense lurked leeringly in those crazily elusive angles of 



293 



carven rock where a second glance shewed concavity after the first shewed 
convexity. 

Something very hke fright had come over all the explorers before anything more 
definite than rock and ooze and weed was seen. Each would have fled had he not 
feared the scorn of the others, and it was only half-heartedly that they searched - 
vainly, as it proved - for some portable souvenir to bear away. 

It was Rodriguez the Portuguese who climbed up the foot of the monolith and 
shouted of what he had found. The rest followed him, and looked curiously at 
the immense carved door with the now familiar squid-dragon bas-relief. It was, 
Johansen said, like a great barn-door; and they all felt that it was a door because 
of the ornate lintel, threshold, and jambs around it, though they could not decide 
whether it lay flat like a trap-door or slantwise like an outside cellar-door. As 
Wilcox would have said, the geometry of the place was all wrong. One could not 
be sure that the sea and the ground were horizontal, hence the relative position 
of everything else seemed phantasmally variable. 

Briden pushed at the stone in several places without result. Then Donovan felt 
over it delicately around the edge, pressing each point separately as he went. He 
climbed interminably along the grotesque stone moulding - that is, one would 
call it climbing if the thing was not after all horizontal - and the men wondered 
how any door in the universe could be so vast. Then, very softly and slowly, the 
acre-great lintel began to give inward at the top; and they saw that it was 
balanced 

Donovan slid or somehow propelled himself down or along the jamb and 
rejoined his fellows, and everyone watched the queer recession of the 
monstrously carven portal. In this phantasy of prismatic distortion it moved 
anomalously in a diagonal way, so that all the rules of matter and perspective 
seemed upset. 

The aperture was black with a darkness almost material. That tenebrousness was 
indeed a positive quality; for it obscured such parts of the inner walls as ought to 
have been revealed, and actually burst forth like smoke from its aeon-long 
imprisonment, visibly darkening the sun as it slunk away into the shrunken and 
gibbous sky on flapping membraneous wings. The odour rising from the newly 
opened depths was intolerable, and at length the quick-eared Hawkins thought 
he heard a nasty, slopping sound down there. Everyone listened, and everyone 
was listening still when It lumbered slobberingly into sight and gropingly 
squeezed Its gelatinous green immensity through the black doorway into the 
tainted outside air of that poison city of madness. 



294 



Poor Johansen's handwriting almost gave out when he wrote of this. Of the six 
men who never reached the ship, he thinks two perished of pure fright in that 
accursed instant. The Thing cannot be described - there is no language for such 
abysms of shrieking and immemorial lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all 
matter, force, and cosmic order. A mountain walked or stumbled. God! What 
wonder that across the earth a great architect went mad, and poor Wilcox raved 
with fever in that telepathic instant? The Thing of the idols, the green, sticky 
spawn of the stars, had awaked to claim his own. The stars were right again, and 
what an age-old cult had failed to do by design, a band of innocent sailors had 
done by accident. After vigintillions of years great Cthulhu was loose again, and 
ravening for delight. 

Three men were swept up by the flabby claws before anybody turned. God rest 
them, if there be any rest in the universe. They were Donovan, Guerrera, and 
Angstrom. Parker slipped as the other three were plunging frenziedly over 
endless vistas of green-crusted rock to the boat, and Johansen swears he was 
swallowed up by an angle of masonry which shouldn't have been there; an angle 
which was acute, but behaved as if it were obtuse. So only Briden and Johansen 
reached the boat, and pulled desperately for the Alert as the mountainous 
monstrosity flopped down the slimy stones and hesitated, floundering at the 
edge of the water. 

Steam had not been suffered to go down entirely, despite the departure of all 
hands for the shore; and it was the work of only a few moments of feverish 
rushing up and down between wheel and engines to get the Alert under way. 
Slowly, amidst the distorted horrors of that indescribable scene, she began to 
churn the lethal waters; whilst on the masonry of that charnel shore that was not 
of earth the titan Thing from the stars slavered and gibbered like Polypheme 
cursing the fleeing ship of Odysseus. Then, bolder than the storied Cyclops, great 
Cthulhu slid greasily into the water and began to pursue with vast wave-raising 
strokes of cosmic potency. Briden looked back and went mad, laughing shrilly as 
he kept on laughing at intervals till death found him one night in the cabin whilst 
Johansen was wandering deliriously. 

But Johansen had not given out yet. Knowing that the Thing could surely 
overtake the Alert until steam was fully up, he resolved on a desperate chance; 
and, setting the engine for full speed, ran lightning-like on deck and reversed the 
wheel. There was a mighty eddying and foaming in the noisome brine, and as 
the steam mounted higher and higher the brave Norwegian drove his vessel 
head on against the pursuing jelly which rose above the unclean froth like the 
stern of a daemon galleon. The awful squid-head with writhing feelers came 
nearly up to the bowsprit of the sturdy yacht, but johansen drove on relentlessly. 
There was a bursting as of an exploding bladder, a slushy nastiness as of a cloven 



295 



sunfish, a stench as of a thousand opened graves, and a sound that the chronicler 
could not put on paper. For an instant the ship was befouled by an acrid and 
blinding green cloud, and then there was only a venomous seething astern; 
where - God in heaven! - the scattered plasticity of that nameless sky-spawn was 
nebulously recombining in its hateful original form, whilst its distance widened 
every second as the Alert gained impetus from its mounting steam. 

That was all. After that Johansen only brooded over the idol in the cabin and 
attended to a few matters of food for himself and the laughing maniac by his 
side. He did not try to navigate after the first bold flight, for the reaction had 
taken something out of his soul. Then came the storm of April 2nd, and a 
gathering of the clouds about his consciousness. There is a sense of spectral 
whirling through liquid gulfs of infinity, of dizzying rides through reeling 
universes on a comets tail, and of hysterical plunges from the pit to the moon 
and from the moon back again to the pit, all livened by a cachinnating chorus of 
the distorted, hilarious elder gods and the green, bat-winged mocking imps of 
Tartarus. 

Out of that dream came rescue-the Vigilant, the vice-admiralty court, the streets 
of Dunedin, and the long voyage back home to the old house by the Egeberg. He 
could not tell - they would think him mad. He would write of what he knew 
before death came, but his wife must not guess. Death would be a boon if only it 
could blot out the memories. 

That was the document I read, and now I have placed it in the tin box beside the 
bas-relief and the papers of Professor Angell. With it shall go this record of mine 
- this test of my own sanity, wherein is pieced together that which I hope may 
never be pieced together again. I have looked upon all that the universe has to 
hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever 
afterward be poison to me. But I do not think my life will be long. As my uncle 
went, as poor Johansen went, so I shall go. I know too much, and the cult still 
lives. 

Cthulhu still lives, too, I suppose, again in that chasm of stone which has 
shielded him since the sun was young. His accursed city is sunken once more, for 
the Vigilant sailed over the spot after the April storm; but his ministers on earth 
still bellow and prance and slay around idol-capped monoliths in lonely places. 
He must have been trapped by the sinking whilst within his black abyss, or else 
the world would by now be screaming with fright and frenzy. Who knows the 
end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness 
waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men. 
A time will come - but I must not and cannot think! Let me pray that, if I do not 



296 



survive this manuscript, my executors may put caution before audacity and see 
that it meets no other eye. 



297 



The Case of Charles Dexter Ward 

Written from January to March, 1927 

Published May and July of 1941 in Weird Tales 

'The essential Saltes of Animals may be so prepared and preserved, that an 
ingenious Man may have the whole Ark of Noah in his own Studie, and raise the 
fine Shape of an Animal out of its Ashes at his Pleasure; and by the lyke Method 
from the essential Saltes of humane Dust, a Philosopher may, without any 
criminal Necromancy, call up the Shape of any dead Ancestour from the Dust 
whereinto his Bodie has been incinerated.' 

- Borellus 

I. A Result and a Prologe 

1 

From a private hospital for the insane near Providence, Rhode Island, there 
recently disappeared an exceedingly singular person. He bore the name of 
Charles Dexter Ward, and was placed under restraint most reluctantly by the 
grieving father who had watched his aberration grow from a mere eccentricity to 
a dark mania involving both a possibility of murderous tendencies and a 
profound and peculiar change in the apparent contents of his mind. Doctors 
confess themselves quite baffled by his case, since it presented oddities of a 
general physiological as well as psychological character. 

In the first place, the patient seemed oddly older than his twenty-six years would 
warrant. Mental disturbance, it is true, will age one rapidly; but the face of this 
young man had taken on a subtle cast which only the very aged normally 
acquire. In the second place, his organic processes shewed a certain queerness of 
proportion which nothing in medical experience can parallel. Respiration and 
heart action had a baffling lack of symmetry; the voice was lost, so that no 
sounds above a whisper were possible; digestion was incredibly prolonged and 
minimised, and neural reactions to standard stimuli bore no relation at all to 
anything heretofore recorded, either normal or pathological. The skin had a 
morbid chill and dryness, and the cellular structure of the tissue seemed 
exaggeratedly coarse and loosely knit. Even a large olive birthmark on the right 
hip had disappeared, whilst there had formed on the chest a very peculiar mole 
or blackish spot of which no trace existed before. In general, all physicians agree 
that in Ward the processes of metabolism had become retarded to a degree 
beyond precedent. 



298 



Psychologically, too, Charles Ward was unique. His madness held no affinity to 
any sort recorded in even the latest and most exhaustive of treatises, and was 
conjoined to a mental force which would have made him a genius or a leader had 
it not been twisted into strange and grotesque forms. Dr. Willett, who was 
Ward's family physician, affirms that the patient's gross mental capacity, as 
gauged by his response to matters outside the sphere of his insanity, had actually 
increased since the seizure. Ward, it is true, was always a scholar and an 
antiquarian; but even his most brilliant early work did not shew the prodigious 
grasp and insight displayed during his last examinations by the alienists. It was, 
indeed, a difficult matter to obtain a legal commitment to the hospital, so 
powerful and lucid did the youth's mind seem; and only on the evidence of 
others, and on the strength of many abnormal gaps in his stock of information as 
distinguished from his intelligence, was he finally placed in confinement. To the 
very moment of his vanishment he was an omnivorous reader and as great a 
conversationalist as his poor voice permitted; and shrewd observers, failing to 
foresee his escape, freely predicted that he would not be long in gaining his 
discharge from custody. 

Only Dr. Willett, who brought Charles Ward into the world and had watched his 
growth of body and mind ever since, seemed frightened at the thought of his 
future freedom. He had had a terrible experience and had made a terrible 
discovery which he dared not reveal to his sceptical colleagues. Willett, indeed, 
presents a minor mystery all his own in his connexion with the case. He was the 
last to see the patient before his flight, and emerged from that final conversation 
in a state of mixed horror and relief which several recalled when Ward's escape 
became known three hours later. That escape itself is one of the unsolved 
wonders of Dr. Waite's hospital. A window open above a sheer drop of sixty feet 
could hardly explain it, yet after that talk with Willett the youth was undeniably 
gone. Willett himself has no public explanations to offer, though he seems 
strangely easier in mind than before the escape. Many, indeed, feel that he would 
like to say more if he thought any considerable number would believe him. He 
had found Ward in his room, but shortly after his departure the attendants 
knocked in vain. When they opened the door the patient was not there, and all 
they found was the open window with a chill April breeze blowing in a cloud of 
fine bluish-grey dust that almost choked them. True, the dogs howled some time 
before; but that was while Willett was still present, and they had caught nothing 
and shewn no disturbance later on. Ward's father was told at once over the 
telephone, but he seemed more saddened than surprised. By the time Dr. Waite 
called in person. Dr. Willett had been talking with him, and both disavowed any 
knowledge or complicity in the escape. Only from certain closely confidential 
friends of Willett and the senior Ward have any clues been gained, and even 
these are too wildly fantastic for general credence. The one fact which remains is 
that up to the present time no trace of the missing madman has been unearthed. 



299 



Charles Ward was an antiquarian from infancy, no doubt gaining his taste from 
the venerable town around him, and from the relics of the past which filled every 
corner of his parents' old mansion in Prospect Street on the crest of the hill. With 
the years his devotion to ancient things increased; so that history, genealogy, and 
the study of colonial architecture, furniture, and craftsmanship at length 
crowded everything else from his sphere of interests. These tastes are important 
to remember in considering his madness; for although they do not form its 
absolute nucleus, they play a prominent part in its superficial form. The gaps of 
information which the alienists noticed were all related to modern matters, and 
were invariably offset by a correspondingly excessive though outwardly 
concealed knowledge of bygone matters as brought out by adroit questioning; so 
that one would have fancied the patient literally transferred to a former age 
through some obscure sort of auto-hypnosis. The odd thing was that Ward 
seemed no longer interested in the antiquities he knew so well. He had, it 
appears, lost his regard for them through sheer familiarity; and all his final 
efforts were obviously bent toward mastering those common facts of the modern 
world which had been so totally and unmistakably expunged from his brain. 
That this wholesale deletion had occurred, he did his best to hide; but it was clear 
to all who watched him that his whole programme of reading and conversation 
was determined by a frantic wish to imbibe such knowledge of his own life and 
of the ordinary practical and cultural background of the twentieth century as 
ought to have been his by virtue of his birth in 1902 and his education in the 
schools of our own time. Alienists are now wondering how, in view of his vitally 
impaired range of data, the escaped patient manages to cope with the 
complicated world of today; the dominant opinion being that he is "lying low" in 
some humble and unexacting position till his stock of modern information can be 
brought up to the normal. 

The beginning of Ward's madness is a matter of dispute among alienists. Dr. 
Lyman, the eminent Boston authority, places it in 1919 or 1920, during the boy's 
last year at the Moses Brown School, when he suddenly turned from the study of 
the past to the study of the occult, and refused to qualify for college on the 
ground that he had individual researches of much greater importance to make. 
This is certainly borne out by Ward's altered habits at the time, especially by his 
continual search through town records and among old burying-grounds for a 
certain grave dug in 1771; the grave of an ancestor named Joseph Curwen, some 
of whose papers he professed to have found behind the panelling of a very old 
house in Olney Court, on Stampers' Hill, which Curwen was known to have 
built and occupied. It is, broadly speaking, undeniable that the winter of 1919-20 
saw a great change in Ward; whereby he abruptly stopped his general 
antiquarian pursuits and embarked on a desperate delving into occult subjects 
both at home and abroad, varied only by this strangely persistent search for his 
forefather's grave. 



300 



From this opinion, however. Dr. Willett substantially dissents; basing his verdict 
on his close and continuous knowledge of the patient, and on certain frightful 
investigations and discoveries which he made toward the last. Those 
investigations and discoveries have left their mark upon him; so that his voice 
trembles when he tells them, and his hand trembles when he tries to write of 
them. Willett admits that the change of 1919-20 would ordinarily appear to mark 
the beginning of a progressive decadence which culminated in the horrible and 
uncanny alienation of 1928; but believes from personal observation that a finer 
distinction must be made. Granting freely that the boy was always ill-balanced 
temperamentally, and prone to be unduly susceptible and enthusiastic in his 
responses to phenomena around him, he refuses to concede that the early 
alteration marked the actual passage from sanity to madness; crediting instead 
Ward's own statement that he had discovered or rediscovered something whose 
effect on human though was likely to be marvellous and profound. The true 
madness, he is certain, came with a later change; after the Curwen portrait and 
the ancient papers had been unearthed; after a trip to strange foreign places had 
been made, and some terrible invocations chanted under strange and secret 
circumstances; after certain answers to these invocations had been plainly 
indicated, and a frantic letter penned under agonising and inexplicable 
conditions; after the wave of vampirism and the ominous Pawtuxet gossip; and 
after the patient's memory commenced to exclude contemporary images whilst 
his physical aspect underwent the subtle modification so many subsequently 
noticed. 

It was only about this time, Willett points out with much acuteness, that the 
nightmare qualities became indubitably linked with Ward; and the doctor feels 
shudderingly sure that enough solid evidence exists to sustain the youth's claim 
regarding his crucial discovery. In the first place, two workmen of high 
intelligence saw Joseph Curwen's ancient papers found. Secondly, the boy once 
shewed Dr. Willett those papers and a page of the Curwen diary, and each of the 
documents had every appearance of genuineness. The hole where Ward claimed 
to have found them was long a visible reality, and Willett had a very convincing 
final glimpse of them in surroundings which can scarcely be believed and can 
never perhaps be proved. Then there were the mysteries and coincidences of the 
Orne and Hutchinson letters, and the problem of the Curwen penmanship and of 
what the detectives brought to light about Dr. Allen; these things, and the terrible 
message in mediaeval minuscules found in Willett's pocket when he gained 
consciousness after his shocking experience. 

And most conclusive of all, there are the two hideous results which the doctor 
obtained from a certain pair of formulae during his final investigations; results 
which virtually proved the authenticity of the papers and of their monstrous 



301 



implications at the same time that those papers were borne forever from human 
knowledge. 



One must look back at Charles Ward's earlier life as at something belonging as 
much to the past as the antiquities he loved so keenly. In the autumn of 1918, and 
with a considerable show of zest in the military training of the period, he had 
begun his junior year at the Moses Brown School, which lies very near his home. 
The old main building, erected in 1819, had always charmed his youthful 
antiquarian sense; and the spacious park in which the academy is set appealed to 
his sharp eye for landscape. His social activities were few; and his hours were 
spent mainly at home, in rambling walks, in his classes and drills, and in pursuit 
of antiquarian and genealogical data at the City Hall, the State House, the Public 
Library, the Athenaeum, the Historical Society, the John Carter Brown and John 
Hay Libraries of Brown University, and the newly opened Shepley Library in 
Benefit Street. One may picture him yet as he was in those days; tall, slim, and 
blond, with studious eyes and a slight droop, dressed somewhat carelessly, and 
giving a dominant impression of harmless awkwardness rather than 
attractiveness. 

His walks were always adventures in antiquity, during which he managed to 
recapture from the myriad relics of a glamorous old city a vivid and connected 
picture of the centuries before. His home was a great Georgian mansion atop the 
well-nigh precipitous hill that rises just east of the river; and from the rear 
windows of its rambling wings he could look dizzily out over all the clustered 
spires, domes, roofs, and skyscraper summits of the lower town to the purple 
hills of the countryside beyond. Here he was born, and from the lovely classic 
porch of the double-bayed brick facade his nurse had first wheeled him in his 
carriage; past the little white farmhouse of two hundred years before that the 
town had long ago overtaken, and on toward the stately colleges along the 
shady, sumptuous street, whose old square brick mansions and smaller wooden 
houses with narrow, heavy-columned Doric porches dreamed solid and 
exclusive amidst their generous yards and gardens. 

He had been wheeled, too, along sleepy Congdon Street, one tier lower down on 
the steep hill, and with all its eastern homes on high terraces. The small wooden 
houses averaged a greater age here, for it was up this hill that the growing town 
had climbed; and in these rides he had imbibed something of the colour of a 
quaint colonial village. The nurse used to stop and sit on the benches of Prospect 
Terrace to chat with policemen; and one of the child's first memories was of the 
great westward sea of hazy roofs and domes and steeples and far hills which he 
saw one winter afternoon from that great railed embankment, and violet and 



302 



mystic against a fevered, apocalyptic sunset of reds and golds and purples and 
curious greens. The vast marble dome of the State House stood out in massive 
silhouette, its crowning statue haloed fantastically by a break in one of the tinted 
stratus clouds that barred the flaming sky. 

When he was larger his famous walks began; first with his impatiently dragged 
nurse, and then alone in dreamy meditation. Farther and farther down that 
almost perpendicular hill he would venture, each time reaching older and 
quainter levels of the ancient city. He would hesitate gingerly down vertical 
Jenckes Street with its bank walls and colonial gables to the shady Benefit Street 
corner, where before him was a wooden antique with an lonic-pilastered pair of 
doorways, and beside him a prehistoric gambrel-roofer with a bit of primal 
farmyard remaining, and the great Judge Durfee house with its fallen vestiges of 
Georgian grandeur. It was getting to be a slum here; but the titan elms cast a 
restoring shadow over the place, and the boy used to stroll south past the long 
lines of the pre-Revolutionary homes with their great central chimneys and 
classic portals. On the eastern side they were set high over basements with railed 
double flights of stone steps, and the young Charles could picture them as they 
were when the street was new, and red heels and periwigs set off the painted 
pediments whose signs of wear were now becoming so visible. 

Westward the hill dropped almost as steeply as above, down to the old "Town 
Street" that the founders had laid out at the river's edge in 1636. Here ran 
innumerable little lanes with leaning, huddled houses of immense antiquity; and 
fascinated though he was, it was long before he dared to thread their archaic 
verticality for fear they would turn out a dream or a gateway to unknown 
terrors. He found it much less formidable to continue along Benefit Street past 
the iron fence of St. John's hidden churchyard and the rear of the 1761 Colony 
House and the mouldering bulk of the Golden Ball Inn where Washington 
stopped. At Meeting Street - the successive Gaol Lane and King Street of other 
periods - he would look upward to the east and see the arched flight of steps to 
which the highway had to resort in climbing the slope, and downward to the 
west, glimpsing the old brick colonial schoolhouse that smiles across the road at 
the ancient Sign of Shakespeare's Head where the Providence Gazette and 
Country-Journal was printed before the Revolution. Then came the exquisite 
First Baptist Church of 1775, luxurious with its matchless Gibbs steeple, and the 
Georgian roofs and cupolas hovering by. Here and to the southward the 
neighbourhood became better, flowering at last into a marvellous group of early 
mansions; but still the little ancient lanes led off down the precipice to the west, 
spectral in their many-gabled archaism and dipping to a riot of iridescent decay 
where the wicked old water-front recalls its proud East India days amidst 
polyglot vice and squalor, rotting wharves, and blear-eyed ship-chandleries. 



303 



with such surviving alley names as Packet, Bullion, Gold, Silver, Coin, Doubloon, 
Sovereign, Guilder, Dollar, Dime, and Cent. 

Sometimes, as he grew taller and more adventurous, young Ward would venture 
down into this maelstrom of tottering houses, broken transoms, tumbling steps, 
twisted balustrades, swarthy faces, and nameless odours; winding from South 
Main to South Water, searching out the docks where the bay and sound steamers 
still touched, and returning northward at this lower level past the steep-roofed 
1816 warehouses and the broad square at the Great Bridge, where the 1773 
Market House still stands firm on its ancient arches. In that square he would 
pause to drink in the bewildering beauty of the old town as it rises on its 
eastward bluff, decked with its two Georgian spires and crowned by the vast 
new Christian Science dome as London is crowned by St. Paul's. He like mostly 
to reach this point in the late afternoon, when the slanting sunlight touches the 
Market House and the ancient hill roofs and belfries with gold, and throws 
magic around the dreaming wharves where Providence Indiamen used to ride at 
anchor. After a long look he would grow almost dizzy with a poet's love for the 
sight, and then he would scale the slope homeward in the dusk past the old 
white church and up the narrow precipitous ways where yellow gleams would 
begin to peep out in small-paned windows and through fanlights set high over 
double flights of steps with curious wrought-iron railings. 

At other times, and in later years, he would seek for vivid contrasts; spending 
half a walk in the crumbling colonial regions northwest of his home, where the 
hill drops to the lower eminence of Stampers' Hill with its ghetto and negro 
quarter clustering round the place where the Boston stage coach used to start 
before the Revolution, and the other half in the gracious southerly realm about 
George, Benevolent, Power, and Williams Streets, where the old slope holds 
unchanged the fine estates and bits of walled garden and steep green lane in 
which so many fragrant memories linger. These rambles, together with the 
diligent studies which accompanied them, certainly account for a large amount 
of the antiquarian lore which at last crowded the modern world from Charles 
Ward's mind; and illustrate the mental soil upon which fell, in that fateful winter 
of 1919-20, the seeds that came to such strange and terrible fruition. 

Dr. Willett is certain that, up to this ill-omened winter of first change, Charles 
Ward's antiquarianism was free from every trace of the morbid. Graveyards held 
for him no particular attraction beyond their quaintness and historic value, and 
of anything like violence or savage instinct he was utterly devoid. Then, by 
insidious degrees, there appeared to develop a curious sequel to one of his 
genealogical triumphs of the year before; when he had discovered among his 
maternal ancestors a certain very long-lived man named Joseph Curwen, who 



304 



had come from Salem in March of 1692, and about whom a whispered series of 
highly peculiar and disquieting stories clustered. 

Ward's great-great-grandfather Welcome Potter had in 1785 married a certain 
'Ann Tillinghast, daughter of Mrs. Eliza, daughter to Capt. James Tillinghast,' of 
whose paternity the family had preserved no trace. Late in 1918, whilst 
examining a volume of original town records in manuscript, the young 
genealogist encountered an entry describing a legal change of name, by which in 
1772 a Mrs. Eliza Curwen, widow of Joseph Curwen, resumed, along with her 
seven-year-old daughter Ann, her maiden name of Tillinghast; on the ground 
'that her Husband's name was become a public Reproach by Reason of what was 
knowne after his Decease; the which confirming an antient common Rumour, 
tho' not to be credited by a loyall Wife till so proven as to be wholely past 
Doubting.' 

This entry came to light upon the accidental separation of two leaves which had 
been carefully pasted together and treated as one by a laboured revision of the 
page numbers. 

It was at once clear to Charles Ward that he had indeed discovered a hitherto 
unknown great-great-great-grandfather. The discovery doubly excited him 
because he had already heard vague reports and seen scattered allusions relating 
to this person; about whom there remained so few publicly available records, 
aside from those becoming public only in modern times, that it almost seemed as 
if a conspiracy had existed to blot him from memory. What did appear, 
moreover, was of such a singular and provocative nature that one could not fail 
to imagine curiously what it was that the colonial recorders were so anxious to 
conceal and forget; or to suspect that the deletion had reasons all too valid. 

Before this. Ward had been content to let his romancing about old Joseph 
Curwen remain in the idle stage; but having discovered his own relationship to 
this apparently "hushed-up" character, he proceeded to hunt out as 
systematically as possible whatever he might find concerning him. In this excited 
quest he eventually succeeded beyond his highest expectations; for old letters, 
diaries, and sheaves of unpublished memoirs in cobwebbed Providence garrets 
and elsewhere yielded many illuminating passages which their writers had not 
thought it worth their while to destroy. One important sidelight came from a 
point as remote as New York, where some Rhode Island colonial correspondence 
was stored in the Museum at Fraunces' Tavern. The really crucial thing, though, 
and what in Dr, Willett's opinion formed the definite source of Ward's undoing, 
was the matter found in August 1919 behind the panelling of the crumbling 
house in Olney Court. It was that, beyond a doubt, which opened up those black 
vistas whose end was deeper than the pit. 



305 



II. An Antecedent and a Horror 



Joseph Curwen, as revealed by the rambhng legends embodied in what Ward 
heard and unearthed, was a very astonishing, enigmatic, and obscurely horrible 
individual. He had fled from Salem to Providence - that universal haven of the 
odd, the free, and the dissenting - at the beginning of the great witchcraft panic; 
being in fear of accusation because of his solitary ways and queer chemical or 
alchemical experiments. He was a colourless-looking man of about thirty, and 
was soon found qualified to become a freeman of Providence; thereafter buying a 
home lot just north of Gregory Dexter's at about the foot of Olney Street. His 
house was built on Stampers' Hill west of the Town Street, in what later became 
Olney Court; and in 1761 he replaced this with a larger one, on the same site, 
which is still standing. 

Now the first odd thing about Joseph Curwen was that he did not seem to grow 
much older than he had been on his arrival. He engaged in shipping enterprises, 
purchased wharfage near Mile-End Cove, helped rebuild the Great Bridge in 
1713, and in 1723 was one of the founders of the Congregational Church on the 
hill; but always did he retain his nondescript aspect of a man not greatly over 
thirty or thirty-five. As decades mounted up, this singular quality began to excite 
wide notice; but Curwen always explained it by saying that he came of hardy 
forefathers, and practised a simplicity of living which did not wear him our. 
How such simplicity could be reconciled with the inexplicable comings and 
goings of the secretive merchant, and with the queer gleaming of his windows at 
all hours of night, was not very clear to the townsfolk; and they were prone to 
assign other reasons for his continued youth and longevity. It was held, for the 
most part, that Curwen's incessant mixings and boilings of chemicals had much 
to do with his condition. Gossip spoke of the strange substances he brought from 
London and the Indies on his ships or purchased in Newport, Boston, and New 
York; and when old Dr. Jabez Bowen came from Rehoboth and opened his 
apothecary shop across the Great Bridge at the Sign of the Unicorn and Mortar, 
there was ceaseless talk of the drugs, acids, and metals that the taciturn recluse 
incessantly bought or ordered from him. Acting on the assumption that Curwen 
possessed a wondrous and secret medical skill, many sufferers of various sorts 
applied to him for aid; but though he appeared to encourage their belief in a non- 
committal way, and always gave them odd-coloured potions in response to their 
requests, it was observed that his ministrations to others seldom proved of 
benefit. At length, when over fifty years had passed since the stranger's advent, 
and without producing more than five years' apparent change in his face and 
physique, the people began to whisper more darkly; and to meet more than half 
way that desire for isolation which he had always shewn. 



306 



Private letters and diaries of the period reveal, too, a multitude of other reasons 
why Joseph Curwen was marvelled at, feared, and finally shunned like a plague. 
His passion for graveyards, in which he was glimpsed at all hours, and under all 
conditions, was notorious; though no one had witnessed any deed on his part 
which could actually be termed ghoulish. On the Pawtuxet Road he had a farm, 
at which he generally lived during the summer, and to which he would 
frequently be seen riding at various odd times of the day or night. Here his only 
visible servants, farmers, and caretakers were a sullen pair of aged Narragansett 
Indians; the husband dumb and curiously scarred, and the wife of a very 
repulsive cast of countenance, probably due to a mixture of negro blood. In the 
lead-to of this house was the laboratory where most of the chemical experiments 
were conducted. Curious porters and teamers who delivered bottles, bags, or 
boxes at the small read door would exchange accounts of the fantastic flasks, 
crucibles, alembics, and furnaces they saw in the low shelved room; and 
prophesied in whispers that the close-mouthed "chymist" - by which they meant 
alchemist - would not be long in finding the Philosopher's Stone. The nearest 
neighbours to this farm - the Fenners, a quarter of a mile away - had still queerer 
things to tell of certain sounds which they insisted came from the Curwen place 
in the night. There were cries, they said, and sustained bowlings; and they did 
not like the large numbers of livestock which thronged the pastures, for no such 
amount was needed to keep a lone old man and a very few servants in meat, 
milk, and wool. The identity of the stock seemed to change from week to week as 
new droves were purchased from the Kingstown farmers. Then, too, there was 
something very obnoxious about a certain great stone outbuilding with only high 
narrow slits for windows. 

Great Bridge idlers likewise had much to say of Curwen's town house in Olney 
Court; not so much the fine new one built in 1761, when the man must have been 
nearly a century old, but the first low gambrel-roofed one with the windowless 
attic and shingled sides, whose timbers he took the peculiar precaution of 
burning after its demolition. Here there was less mystery, it is true; but the hours 
at which lights were seen, the secretiveness of the two swarthy foreigners who 
comprised the only menservants, the hideous indistinct mumbling of the 
incredibly aged French housekeeper, the large amounts of food seen to enter a 
door within which only four persons lived, and the quality of certain voices often 
heard in muffled conversation at highly unseasonable times, all combined with 
what was known of the Pawtuxet farm to give the place a bad name. 

In choicer circles, too, the Curwen home was by no means undiscussed; for as the 
newcomer had gradually worked into the church and trading life of the town, he 
had naturally made acquaintances of the better sort, whose company and 
conversation he was well fitted by education to enjoy. His birth was known to be 
good, since the Curwens or Corwins of Salem needed no introduction in New 



307 



England. It developed that Joseph Curwen had travelled much in very early life, 
living for a time in England and making at least two voyages to the Orient; and 
his speech, when he deigned to use it, was that of a learned and cultivated 
Englishman. But for some reason or other Curwen did not care for society. 
Whilst never actually rebuffing a visitor, he always reared such a wall of reserve 
that few could think of anything to say to him which would not sound inane. 

There seemed to lurk in his bearing some cryptic, sardonic arrogance, as if he 
had come to find all human beings dull though having moved among stranger 
and more potent entities. When Dr. Checkley the famous wit came from Boston 
in 1738 to be rector of King's Church, he did not neglect calling on one of whom 
he soon heard so much; but left in a very short while because of some sinister 
undercurrent he detected in his host's discourse. Charles Ward told his father, 
when they discussed Curwen one winter evening, that he would give much to 
learn what the mysterious old man had said to the sprightly cleric, but that all 
diarists agree concerning Dr. Checkley's reluctance to repeat anything he had 
heard. The good man had been hideously shocked, and could never recall Joseph 
Curwen without a visible loss of the gay urbanity for which he was famed. 

More definite, however, was the reason why another man of taste and breeding 
avoided the haughty hermit. In 1746 Mr. John Merritt, an elderly English 
gentleman of literary and scientific leanings, came from Newport to the town 
which was so rapidly overtaking it in standing, and built a fine country seat on 
the Neck in what is now the heart of the best residence section. He lived in 
considerable style and comfort, keeping the first coach and liveried servants in 
town, and taking great pride in his telescope, his microscope, and his well- 
chosen library of English and Latin books. Hearing of Curwen as the owner of 
the best library in Providence, Mr. Merritt early paid him a call, and was more 
cordially received than most other callers at the house had been. His admiration 
for his host's ample shelves, which besides the Greek, Latin, and English classics 
were equipped with a remarkable battery of philosophical, mathematical, and 
scientific works including Paracelsus, Agricola, Van Helmont, Sylvius, Glauber, 
Boyle, Boerhaave, Becher, and Stahl, led Curwen to suggest a visit to the 
farmhouse and laboratory whither he had never invited anyone before; and the 
two drove out at once in Mr. Merritt's coach. 

Mr. Merritt always confessed to seeing nothing really horrible at the farmhouse, 
but maintained that the titles of the books in the special library of 
thaumaturgical, alchemical, and theological subjects which Curwen kept in a 
front room were alone sufficient to inspire him with a lasting loathing. Perhaps, 
however, the facial expression of the owner in exhibiting them contributed much 
of the prejudice. This bizarre collection, besides a host of standard works which 
Mr. Merritt was not too alarmed to envy, embraced nearly all the cabbalists. 



308 



daemonologists, and magicians known to man; and was a treasure-house of lore 
in the doubtful realms of alchemy and astrology. Hermes Trismegistus in 
Mesnard's edition, the Turba Philosophorum, Geber's Liber Investigationis, and 
Artephius's Key of Wisdom all were there; with the cabbalistic Zohar, Peter 
Jammy's set of Albertus Magnus, Raymond Lully's Ars Magna et Ultima in 
Zetsner's edition, Roger Bacon's Thesaurus Chemicus, Fludd's Clavis Alchimiae, 
and Trithemius's De Lapide Philosophico crowding them close. Mediaeval Jews 
and Arabs were represented in profusion, and Mr. Merritt turned pale when, 
upon taking down a fine volume conspicuously labelled as the Qanoon-e-Islam, 
he found it was in truth the forbidden Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul 
Alhazred, of which he had heard such monstrous things whispered some years 
previously after the exposure of nameless rites at the strange little fishing village 
of Kingsport, in the province of the Massachussetts-Bay. 

But oddly enough, the worthy gentleman owned himself most impalpably 
disquieted by a mere minor detail. On the huge mahogany table there lay face 
downwards a badly worn copy of Borellus, bearing many cryptical marginalia 
and interlineations in Curwen's hand. The book was open at about its middle, 
and one paragraph displayed such thick and tremulous pen-strokes beneath the 
lines of mystic black-letter that the visitor could not resist scanning it through. 
Whether it was the nature of the passage underscored, or the feverish heaviness 
of the strokes which formed the underscoring, he could not tell; but something in 
that combination affected him very badly and very peculiarly. He recalled it to 
the end of his days, writing it down from memory in his diary and once trying to 
recite it to his close friend Dr. Checkley till he saw how greatly it disturbed the 
urbane rector. It read: 

'The essential Saltes of Animals may be so prepared and preserved, that an 
ingenious Man may have the whole Ark of Noah in his own Studie, and raise the 
fine Shape of an Animal out of its Ashes at his Pleasure; and by the lyke Method 
from the essential Saltes of humane Dust, a Philosopher may, without any 
criminal Necromancy, call up the Shape of any dead Ancestour from the Dust 
whereinto his Bodie has been incinerated.' 

It was near the docks along the southerly part of the Town Street, however, that 
the worst things were muttered about Joseph Curwen. Sailors are superstitious 
folk; and the seasoned salts who manned the infinite rum, slave, and molasses 
sloops, the rakish privateers, and the great brigs of the Browns, Crawfords, and 
Tillinghasts, all made strange furtive signs of protection when they saw the slim, 
deceptively young-looking figure with its yellow hair and slight stoop entering 
the Curwen warehouse in Doubloon Street or talking with captains and 
supercargoes on the long quay where the Curwen ships rode restlessly. 
Curwen's own clerks and captains hated and feared him, and all his sailors were 



309 



mongrel riff-raff from Martinique, St. Eustatius, Havana, or Port Royal. It was, in 
a way, the frequency with which these sailors were replaced which inspired the 
acutest and most tangible part of the fear in which the old man was held. A crew 
would be turned loose in the town on shore leave, some of its members perhaps 
charged with this errand or that; and when reassembled it would be almost sure 
to lack one or more men. That many of the errands had concerned the farm of 
Pawtuxet Road, and that few of the sailors had ever been seen to return from that 
place, was not forgotten; so that in time it became exceedingly difficult for 
Curwen to keep his oddly assorted hands. Almost invariably several would 
desert soon after hearing the gossip of the Providence wharves, and their 
replacement in the West Indies became an increasingly great problem to the 
merchant. 

By 1760 Joseph Curwen was virtually an outcast, suspected of vague horrors and 
daemoniac alliances which seemed all the more menacing because they could not 
be named, understood, or even proved to exist. The last straw may have come 
from the affair of the missing soldiers in 1758, for in March and April of that year 
two Royal regiments on their way to New France were quartered in Providence, 
and depleted by an inexplicable process far beyond the average rate of desertion. 
Rumour dwelt on the frequency with which Curwen was wont to be seen talking 
with the red-coated strangers; and as several of them began to be missed, people 
thought of the odd conditions among his own seamen. What would have 
happened if the regiments had not been ordered on, no one can tell. 

Meanwhile the merchant's worldly affairs were prospering. He had a virtual 
monopoly of the town's trade in saltpetre, black pepper, and cinnamon, and 
easily led any other one shipping establishment save the Browns in his 
importation of brassware, indigo, cotton, woollens, salt, rigging, iron, paper, and 
English goods of every kind. Such shopkeepers as James Green, at the Sign of the 
Elephant in Cheapside, the Russells, at the Sign of the Golden Eagle across the 
Bridge, or Clark and Nightingale at the Frying-Pan and Fish near New Coffee- 
House, depended almost wholly upon him for their stock; and his arrangements 
with the local distillers, the Narragansett dairymen and horse-breeders, and the 
Newport candle-makers, made him one of the prime exporters of the Colony. 

Ostracised though he was, he did not lack for civic spirit of a sort. When the 
Colony House burned down, he subscribed handsomely to the lotteries by which 
the new brick one - still standing at the head of its parade in the old main street - 
was built in 1761. In that same year, too, he helped rebuild the Great Bridge after 
the October gale. He replaced many of the books of the public library consumed 
in the Colony House fire, and bought heavily in the lottery that gave the muddy 
Market Parade and deep-rutted Town Street their pavement of great round 
stones with a brick footwalk or "causey" in the middle. About this time, also, he 



310 



built the plain but excellent new house whose doorway is still such a triumph of 
carving. When the Whitefield adherents broke off from Dr. Cotton's hill church 
in 1743 and founded Deacon Snow's church across the Bridge, Curwen had gone 
with them; though his zeal and attendance soon abated. Now, however, he 
cultivated piety once more; as if to dispel the shadow which had thrown him into 
isolation and would soon begin to wreck his business fortunes if not sharply 
checked. 



The sight of this strange, pallid man, hardly middle-aged in aspect yet certainly 
not less than a full century old, seeking at last to emerge from a cloud of fright 
and detestation too vague to pin down or analyse, was at once a pathetic, a 
dramatic, and a contemptible thing. Such is the power of wealth and of surface 
gestures, however, that there came indeed a slight abatement in the visible 
aversion displayed toward him; especially after the rapid disappearances of his 
sailors abruptly ceased. He must likewise have begun to practice an extreme care 
and secrecy in his graveyard expeditions, for he was never again caught at such 
wanderings; whilst the rumours of uncanny sounds and manoeuvres at his 
Pawtuxet farm diminished in proportion. His rate of food consumption and 
cattle replacement remained abnormally high; but not until modern times, when 
Charles Ward examined a set of his accounts and invoices in the Shepley Library, 
did it occur to any person - save one embittered youth, perhaps - to make dark 
comparisons between the large number of Guinea blacks he imported until 1766, 
and the disturbingly small number for whom he could produce bona fide bills of 
sale either to slave-dealers at the Great Bridge or to the planters of the 
Narragansett Country. Certainly, the cunning and ingenuity of this abhorred 
character were uncannily profound, once the necessity for their exercise had 
become impressed upon him. 

But of course the effect of all this belated mending was necessarily slight. 
Curwen continued to be avoided and distrusted, as indeed the one fact of his 
continued air of youth at a great age would have been enough to warrant; and he 
could see that in the end his fortunes would be likely to suffer. His elaborate 
studies and experiments, whatever they may have been, apparently required a 
heavy income for their maintenance; and since a change of environment would 
deprive him of the trading advantages he had gained, it would not have profited 
him to begin anew in a different region just then. Judgement demanded that he 
patch up his relations with the townsfolk of Providence, so that his presence 
might no longer be a signal for hushed conversation, transparent excuses or 
errands elsewhere, and a general atmosphere of constraint and uneasiness. His 
clerks, being now reduced to the shiftless and impecunious residue whom no 
one else would employ, were giving him much worry; and he held to his sea- 



311 



captains and mates only by shrewdness in gaining some kind of ascendancy over 
them - a mortgage, a promissory note, or a bit of information very pertinent to 
their welfare. In many cases, diarists have recorded with some awe, Curwen 
shewed almost the power of a wizard in unearthing family secrets for 
questionable use. During the final five years of his life it seemed as though only 
direct talks with the long-dead could possibly have furnished some of the data 
which he had so glibly at his tongue's end. 

About this time the crafty scholar hit upon a last desperate expedient to regain 
his footing in the community. Hitherto a complete hermit, he now determined to 
contract an advantageous marriage; securing as a bride some lady whose 
unquestioned position would make all ostracism of his home impossible. It may 
be that he also had deeper reasons for wishing an alliance; reasons so far outside 
the known cosmic sphere that only papers found a century and a half after his 
death caused anyone to suspect them; but of this nothing certain can ever be 
learned. Naturally he was aware of the horror and indignation with which any 
ordinary courtship of his would be received, hence he looked about for some 
likely candidate upon whose parents he might exert a suitable pressure. Such 
candidates, he found, were not at all easy to discover; since he had very 
particular requirements in the way of beauty, accomplishments, and social 
security. At length his survey narrowed down to the household of one of his best 
and oldest ship-captains, a widower of high birth and unblemished standing 
named Dutee Tillinghast, whose only daughter Eliza seemed dowered with 
every conceivable advantage save prospects as an heiress. Capt. Tillinghast was 
completely under the domination of Curwen; and consented, after a terrible 
interview in his cupolaed house on Power's Lane hill, to sanction the 
blasphemous alliance. 

Eliza Tillinghast was at that time eighteen years of age, and had been reared as 
gently as the reduced circumstances of her father permitted. She had attended 
Stephen Jackson's school opposite the Court-House Parade; and had been 
diligently instructed by her mother, before the latter's death of smallpox in 1757, 
in all the arts and refinements of domestic life. A sampler of hers, worked in 1753 
at the age of nine, may still be found in the rooms of the Rhode Island Historical 
Society. After her mother's death she had kept the house, aided only by one old 
black woman. Her arguments with her father concerning the proposed Curwen 
marriage must have been painful indeed; but of these we have no record. Certain 
it is that her engagement to young Ezra Weeden, second mate of the Crawford 
packet Enterprise, was dutifully broken off, and that her union with Joseph 
Curwen took place on the seventh of March, 1763, in the Baptist church, in the 
presence of the most distinguished assemblages which the town could boast; the 
ceremony being performed by the younger Samuel Winsor. The Gazette 
mentioned the event very briefly, and in most surviving copies the item in 



312 



question seems to be cut or torn out. Ward found a single intact copy after much 
search in the archives of a private collector of note, observing with amusement 
the meaningless urbanity of the language: 

'Monday evening last, Mr. Joseph Curwen, of this Town, Merchant, was married 
to Miss Eliza Tillinghast, Daughter of Capt. Dutee Tillinghast, a young Lady who 
has real Merit, added to a beautiful Person, to grace the connubial State and 
perpetuate its Felicity.' 

The collection of Durfee-Arnold letters, discovered by Charles Ward shortly 
before his first reputed madness in the private collection of Melville F. Peters, 
Esq., of George St., and covering this and a somewhat antecedent period, throws 
vivid light on the outrage done to public sentiment by this ill-assorted match. 
The social influence of the Tillinghasts, however, was not to be denied; and once 
more Joseph Curwen found his house frequented by persons whom he could 
never otherwise have induced to cross his threshold. His acceptance was by no 
means complete, and his bride was socially the sufferer through her forced 
venture; but at all events the wall of utter ostracism was somewhat torn down. In 
his treatment of his wife the strange bridegroom astonished both her and the 
community by displaying an extreme graciousness and consideration. The new 
house in Olney Court was now wholly free from disturbing manifestations, and 
although Curwen was much absent at the Pawtuxet farm which his wife never 
visited, he seemed more like a normal citizen than at any other time in his long 
years of residence. Only one person remained in open enmity with him, this 
being the youthful ship's officer whose engagement to Eliza Tillinghast had been 
so abruptly broken. Ezra Weeden had frankly vowed vengeance; and though of a 
quiet and ordinarily mild disposition, was now gaining a hate-bred, dogged 
purpose which boded no good to the usurping husband. 

On the seventh of May, 1765, Curwen's only child Ann was born; and was 
christened by the Rev. John Graves of King's Church, of which both husband and 
wife had become communicants shortly after their marriage, in order to 
compromise between their respective Congregational and Baptist affiliations. 
The record of this birth, as well as that of the marriage two years before, was 
stricken from most copies of the church and town annals where it ought to 
appear; and Charles Ward located both with the greatest difficulty after his 
discover of the widow's change of name had apprised him of his own 
relationship, and engendered the feverish interest which culminated in his 
madness. The birth entry, indeed, was found very curiously through 
correspondence with the heirs of the loyalist Dr. Graves, who had taken with 
him a duplicate set of records when he left his pastorate at the outbreak of the 
Revolution. Ward had tried this source because he knew that his great-great- 
grandmother Ann Tillinghast Potter had been an Episcopalian. 



313 



Shortly after the birth of his daughter, an event he seemed to welcome with a 
fervour greatly out of keeping with his usual coldness, Curwen resolved to sit for 
a portrait. This he had painted by a very gifted Scotsman named Cosmo 
Alexander, then a resident of Newport, and since famous as the early teacher of 
Gilbert Stuart. The likeness was said to have been executed on a wall-panel of the 
library of the house in Olney Court, but neither of the two old diaries mentioning 
it gave any hint of its ultimate disposition. At this period the erratic scholar 
shewed signs of unusual abstraction, and spent as much time as he possibly 
could at his farm on the Pawtuxet Road. He seemed, as was stated, in a condition 
of suppressed excitement or suspense; as if expecting some phenomenal thing or 
on the brink of some strange discovery. Chemistry or alchemy would appear to 
have played a great part, for he took from his house to the farm the greater 
number of his volumes on that subject. 

His affectation of civic interest did not diminish, and he lost no opportunities for 
helping such leaders as Stephen Hopkins, Joseph Brown, and Benjamin West in 
their efforts to raise the cultural tone of the town, which was then much below 
the level of Newport in its patronage of the liberal arts. He had helped Daniel 
Jenckes found his bookshop in 1763, and was thereafter his best customer; 
extending aid likewise to the struggling Gazette that appeared each Wednesday 
at the Sign of Shakespeare's Head. In politics he ardently supported Governor 
Hopkins against the Ward party whose prime strength was in Newport, and his 
really eloquent speech at Hacher's Hall in 1765 against the setting off of North 
Providence as a separate town with a pro-Ward vote in the General Assembly 
did more than any other thing to wear down the prejudice against him. But Ezra 
Weeden, who watched him closely, sneered cynically at all this outward activity; 
and freely swore it was no more than a mask for some nameless traffick with the 
blackest gulfs of Tartarus. The revengeful youth began a systematic study of the 
man and his doings whenever he was in port; spending hours at night by the 
wharves with a dory in readiness when he saw lights in the Curwen warehouses, 
and following the small boat which would sometimes steal quietly off and down 
the bay. He also kept as close a watch as possible on the Pawtuxet farm, and was 
once severely bitten by the dogs the old Indian couple loosed upon him. 



In 1766 came the final change in Joseph Curwen. It was very sudden, and gained 
wide notice amongst the curious townsfolk; for the air of suspense and 
expectancy dropped like an old cloak, giving instant place to an ill-concealed 
exaltation of perfect triumph. Curwen seemed to have difficulty in restraining 
himself from public harangues on what he had found or learned or made; but 
apparently the need of secrecy was greater than the longing to share his 
rejoicing, for no explanation was ever offered by him. It was after this transition. 



314 



which appears to have come early in July, that the sinister scholar began to 
astonish people by his possession of information which only their long-dead 
ancestors would seem to be able to impart. 

But Curwen's feverish secret activities by no means ceased with this change. On 
the contrary, they tended rather to increase; so that more and more of his 
shipping business was handled by the captains whom he now bound to him by 
ties of fear as potent as those of bankruptcy had been. He altogether abandoned 
the slave trade, alleging that its profits were constantly decreasing. Every 
possible moment was spent at the Pawtuxet farm; although there were rumours 
now and then of his presence in places which, though not actually near 
graveyards, were yet so situated in relation to graveyards that thoughtful people 
wondered just how thorough the old merchant's change of habits really was. 
Ezra Weeden, though his periods of espionage were necessarily brief and 
intermittent on account of his sea voyaging, had a vindictive persistence which 
the bulk of the practical townsfolk and farmers lacked; and subjected Curwen's 
affairs to a scrutiny such as they had never had before. 

Many of the odd manoeuvres of the strange merchant's vessels had been taken 
for granted on account of the unrest of the times, when every colonist seemed 
determined to resist the provisions of the Sugar Act which hampered a 
prominent traffick. Smuggling and evasion were the rule in Narragansett Bay, 
and nocturnal landings of illicit cargoes were continuous commonplaces. But 
Weeden, night after night following the lighters or small sloops which he saw 
steal off from the Curwen warehouses at the Town Street docks, soon felt 
assured that it was not merely His Majesty's armed ships which the sinister 
skulker was anxious to avoid. Prior to the change in 1766 these boats had for the 
most part contained chained negroes, who were carried down and across the bay 
and landed at an obscure point on the shore just north of Pawtuxet; being 
afterward driven up the bluff and across country to the Curwen farm, where 
they were locked in that enormous stone outbuilding which had only five high 
narrow slits for windows. After that change, however, the whole programme 
was altered. Importation of slaves ceased at once, and for a time Curwen 
abandoned his midnight sailings. Then, about the spring of 1767, a new policy 
appeared. Once more the lighters grew wont to put out from the black, silent 
docks, and this time they would go down the bay some distance, perhaps as far 
as Namquit Point, where they would meet and receive cargo from strange ships 
of considerable size and widely varied appearance. Curwen's sailors would then 
deposit this cargo at the usual point on the shore, and transport it overland to the 
farm; locking it in the same cryptical stone building which had formerly received 
the negroes. The cargo consisted almost wholly of boxes and cases, of which a 
large proportion were oblong and heavy and disturbingly suggestive of coffins. 



315 



Weeden always watched the farm with unremitting assiduity; visiting it each 
night for long periods, and seldom letting a week go by without a sight except 
when the ground bore a footprint-revealing snow. Even then he would often 
walk as close as possible in the travelled road or on the ice of the neighbouring 
river to see what tracks others might have left. Finding his own vigils interrupted 
by nautical duties, he hired a tavern companion named Eleazar Smith to 
continue the survey during his absence; and between them the two could have 
set in motion some extraordinary rumours. That they did not do so was only 
because they knew the effect of publicity would be to warn their quarry and 
make further progress impossible. Instead, they wished to learn something 
definite before taking any action. What they did learn must have been startling 
indeed, and Charles Ward spoke many times to his parents of his regret at 
Weeden's later burning of his notebooks. All that can be told of their discoveries 
is what Eleazar Smith jotted down in a non too coherent diary, and what other 
diarists and letter-writers have timidly repeated from the statements which they 
finally made - and according to which the farm was only the outer shell of some 
vast and revolting menace, of a scope and depth too profound and intangible for 
more than shadowy comprehension. 

It is gathered that Weeden and Smith became early convinced that a great series 
of tunnels and catacombs, inhabited by a very sizeable staff of persons besides 
the old Indian and his wife, underlay the farm. The house was an old peaked 
relic of the middle seventeenth century with enormous stack chimney and 
diamond-paned lattice windows, the laboratory being in a lean-to toward the 
north, where the roof came nearly to the ground. This building stood clear of any 
other; yet judging by the different voices heard at odd times within, it must have 
been accessible through secret passages beneath. These voices, before 1766, were 
mere mumblings and negro whisperings and frenzied screams, coupled with 
curious chants or invocations. After that date, however, they assumed a very 
singular and terrible cast as they ran the gamut betwixt dronings of dull 
acquiescence and explosions of frantic pain or fury, rumblings of conversations 
and whines of entreaty, pantings of eagerness and shouts of protest. They 
appeared to be in different languages, all known to Curwen, whose rasping 
accents were frequently distinguishable in reply, reproof, or threatening. 
Sometimes it seemed that several persons must be in the house; Curwen, certain 
captives, and the guards of those captives. There were voices of a sort that 
neither Weeden nor Smith had ever heard before despite their wide knowledge 
of foreign parts, and many that they did seem to place as belonging to this or that 
nationality. The nature of the conversations seemed always a kind of catechism, 
as if Curwen were extorting some sort of information from terrified or rebellious 
prisoners. 



316 



Weeden had many verbatim reports of overheard scraps in his notebook, for 
Enghsh, French, and Spanish, which he knew, were frequently used; but of these 
nothing has survived. He did, however, say that besides a few ghouhsh 
dialogues in which the past affairs of Providence families were concerned, most 
of the questions and answers he could understand were historical or scientific; 
occasionally pertaining to very remote places and ages. Once, for example, an 
alternately raging and sullen figure was questioned in French about the Black 
Prince's massacre at Limoges in 1370, as if there were some hidden reason which 
he ought to know. Curwen asked the prisoner - if prisoner he were - whether the 
order to slay was given because of the Sign of the Goat found on the altar in the 
ancient Roman crypt beneath the Cathedral, or whether the Dark Man of the 
Haute Vienne had spoken the Three Words. Failing to obtain replies, the 
inquisitor had seemingly resorted to extreme means; for there was a terrific 
shriek followed by silence and muttering and a bumping sound. 

None of these colloquies was ever ocularly witnessed, since the windows were 
always heavily draped. Once, though, during a discourse in an unknown tongue, 
a shadow was seen on the curtain which startled Weeden exceedingly; 
reminding him of one of the puppets in a show he had seen in the autumn of 
1764 in Hacher's Hall, when a man from Germantown, Pennsylvania, had given 
a clever mechanical spectacle advertised as 

'A View of the Famous City of Jerusalem, in which are represented Jerusalem, 
the Temple of Solomon, his Royal Throne, the noted Towers, and Hills, likewise 
the Suffering of Our Saviour from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Cross on the 
Hill of Golgotha; an artful piece of Statuary, Worthy to be seen by the Curious.' 

It was on this occasion that the listener, who had crept close to the window of the 
front room whence the speaking proceeded, gave a start which roused the old 
Indian pair and caused them to loose the dogs on him. After that no more 
conversations were ever heard in the house, and Weeden and Smith concluded 
that Curwen had transferred his field of action to regions below. 

That such regions in truth existed, seemed amply clear from many things. Faint 
cries and groans unmistakably came up now and then from what appeared to be 
the solid earth in places far from any structure; whilst hidden in the bushes along 
the river-bank in the rear, where the high ground sloped steeply down to the 
valley of the Pawtuxet, there was found an arched oaken door in a frame of 
heavy masonry, which was obviously an entrance to caverns within the hill. 
When or how these catacombs could have been constructed, Weeden was unable 
to say; but he frequently pointed out how easily the place might have been 
reached by bands of unseen workmen from the river. Joseph Curwen put his 
mongrel seamen to diverse uses indeed! During the heavy spring rains of 1769 



317 



the two watchers kept a sharp eye on the steep river-bank to see if any 
subterrene secrets might be washed to hght, and were rewarded by the sight of a 
profusion of both human and animal bones in places where deep gullies had 
been worn in the banks. Naturally there might be many explanations of such 
things in the rear of a stock farm, and a locality where old Indian bury-grounds 
were common, but Weeden and Smith drew their own inferences. 

It was in January 1770, whilst Weeden and Smith were still debating vainly on 
what, if anything, to think or do about the whole bewildering business, that the 
incident of the Fortaleza occurred. Exasperated by the burning of the revenue 
sloop Liberty at Newport during the previous summer, the customs fleet under 
Admiral Wallace had adopted an increased vigilance concerning strange vessels; 
and on this occasion His Majesty's armed schooner Cygnet, under Capt. Charles 
Leslie, captured after a short pursuit one early morning the scow Fortaleza of 
Barcelona, Spain, under Capt. Manuel Arruda, bound according to its log from 
Grand Cairo, Egypt, to Providence. When searched for contraband material, this 
ship revealed the astonishing fact that its cargo consisted exclusively of Egyptian 
mummies, consigned to "Sailor A. B. C", who would come to remove his goods 
in a lighter just off Namquit Point and whose identity Capt. Arruda felt himself 
in honour bound not to reveal. The Vice-Admiralty at Newport, at a loss what to 
do in view of the non-contraband nature of the cargo on the one hand and of the 
unlawful secrecy of the entry on the other hand, compromised on Collector 
Robinson's recommendation by freeing the ship but forbidding it a port in Rhode 
Island waters. There were later rumours of its having been seen in Boston 
Harbour, though it never openly entered the Port of Boston. 

This extraordinary incident did not fail of wide remark in Providence, and there 
were not many who doubted the existence of some connexion between the cargo 
of mummies and the sinister Joseph Curwen. His exotic studies and his curious 
chemical importations being common knowledge, and his fondness for 
graveyards being common suspicion; it did not take much imagination to link 
him with a freakish importation which could not conceivably have been destined 
for anyone else in the town. As if conscious of this natural belief, Curwen took 
care to speak casually on several occasions of the chemical value of the balsams 
found in mummies; thinking perhaps that he might make the affair seem less 
unnatural, yet stopping just short of admitting his participation. Weeden and 
Smith, of course, felt no doubt whatsoever of the significance of the thing; and 
indulged in the wildest theories concerning Curwen and his monstrous labours. 

The following spring, like that of the year before, had heavy rains; and the 
watchers kept careful track of the river-bank behind the Curwen farm. Large 
sections were washed away, and a certain number of bones discovered; but no 
glimpse was afforded of any actual subterranean chambers or burrows. 



318 



Something was rumoured, however, at the village of Pawtuxet about a mile 
below, where the river flows in falls over a rocky terrace to join the placed 
landlocked cove. There, where quaint old cottages climbed the hill from the 
rustic bridge, and fishing-smacks lay anchored at their sleepy docks, a vague 
report went round of things that were floating down the river and flashing into 
sight for a minute as they went over the falls. Of course the Pawtuxet in a long 
river which winds through many settled regions abounding in graveyards, and 
of course the spring rains had been very heavy; but the fisherfolk about the 
bridge did not like the wild way that one of the things stared as it shot down to 
the still waters below, or the way that another half cried out although its 
condition had greatly departed from that of objects which normally cried out. 
That rumour sent Smith - for Weeden was just then at sea - in haste to the river- 
bank behind the farm; where surely enough there remained the evidence of an 
extensive cave-in. There was, however, no trace of a passage into the steep bank; 
for the miniature avalanche had left behind a solid wall of mixed earth and 
shrubbery from aloft. Smith went to the extent of some experimental digging, but 
was deterred by lack of success - or perhaps by fear of possible success. It is 
interesting to speculate on what the persistent and revengeful Weeden would 
have done had he been ashore at the time. 



By the autumn of 1770 Weeden decided that the time was ripe to tell others of his 
discoveries; for he had a large number of facts to link together, and a second eye- 
witness to refute the possible charge that jealousy and vindictiveness had 
spurred his fancy. As his first confidant he selected Capt. James Mathewson of 
the Enterprise, who on the one hand knew him well enough not to doubt his 
veracity, and on the other hand was sufficiently influential in the town to be 
heard in turn with respect. The colloquy took place in an upper room of Sabin's 
Tavern near the docks, with Smith present to corroborate virtually every 
statement; and it could be seen that Capt. Mathewson was tremendously 
impressed. Like nearly everyone else in the town, he had had black suspicions of 
his own anent Joseph Curwen; hence it needed only this confirmation and 
enlargement of data to convince him absolutely. At the end of the conference he 
was very grave, and enjoined strict silence upon the two younger men. He 
would, he said, transmit the information separately to some ten or so of the most 
learned and prominent citizens of Providence; ascertaining their views and 
following whatever advice they might have to offer. Secrecy would probably be 
essential in any case, for this was no matter that the town constables or militia 
could cope with; and above all else the excitable crowd must be kept in 
ignorance, lest there be enacted in these already troublous times a repetition of 
that frightful Salem panic of less than a century before which had first brought 
Curwen hither. 



319 



The right persons to tell, he believed, would be Dr. Benjamin West, whose 
pamphlet on the late transit of Venus proved him a scholar and keen thinker; 
Rev. James Manning, President of the College which had just moved up from 
Warren and was temporarily housed in the new King Street schoolhouse 
awaiting the completion of its building on the hill above Presbyterian-Lane; ex- 
Governor Stephen Hopkins, who had been a member of the Philosophical 
Society at Newport, and was a man of very broad perceptions; John Carter, 
publisher of the Gazette; all four of the Brown brothers, John, Joseph, Nicholas, 
and Moses, who formed the recognised local magnates, and of whom Joseph was 
an amateur scientist of parts; old Dr. Jabez Bowen, whose erudition was 
considerable, and who had much first-hand knowledge of Curwen's odd 
purchases; and Capt. Abraham Whipple, a privateersman of phenomenal 
boldness and energy who could be counted on to lead in any active measures 
needed. These men, if favourable, might eventually be brought together for 
collective deliberation; and with them would rest the responsibility of deciding 
whether or not to inform the Governor of the Colony, Joseph Wanton of 
Newport, before taking action. 

The mission of Capt. Mathewson prospered beyond his highest expectations; for 
whilst he found one or two of the chosen confidants somewhat sceptical of the 
possible ghastly side of Weeden's tale, there was not one who did not think it 
necessary to take some sort of secret and coordinated action. Curwen, it was 
clear, formed a vague potential menace to the welfare of the town and Colony; 
and must be eliminated at any cost. Late in December 1770 a group of eminent 
townsmen met at the home of Stephen Hopkins and debated tentative measures. 
Weeden's notes, which he had given to Capt. Mathewson, were carefully read; 
and he and Smith were summoned to give testimony anent details. Something 
very like fear seized the whole assemblage before the meeting was over, though 
there ran through that fear a grim determination which Capt. Whipple's bluff 
and resonant profanity best expressed. They would not notify the Governor, 
because a more than legal course seemed necessary. With hidden powers of 
uncertain extent apparently at his disposal, Curwen was not a man who could 
safely be warned to leave town. Nameless reprisals might ensue, and even if the 
sinister creature complied, the removal would be no more than the shifting of an 
unclean burden to another place. The times were lawless, and men who had 
flouted the King's revenue forces for years were not the ones to balk at sterner 
things when duty impelled. Curwen must be surprised at his Pawtuxet farm by a 
large raiding-party of seasoned privateersmen and given one decisive chance to 
explain himself. If he proved a madman, amusing himself with shrieks and 
imaginary conversations in different voices, he would be properly confined. If 
something graver appeared, and if the underground horrors indeed turned out 
to be real, he and all with him must die. It could be done quietly, and even the 
widow and her father need not be told how it came about. 



320 



While these serious steps were under discussion there occurred in the town an 
incident so terrible and inexplicable that for a time little else was mentioned for 
miles around. In the middle of a moon-light January night with heavy snow 
underfoot there resounded over the river and up the hill a shocking series of 
cries which brought sleepy heads to every window; and people around 
Weybosset Point saw a great white thing plunging frantically along the badly 
cleared space in front of the Turk's Head. There was a baying of dogs in the 
distance, but this subsided as soon as the clamour of the awakened town became 
audible. Parties of men with lanterns and muskets hurried out to see what was 
happening, but nothing rewarded their search. The next morning, however, a 
giant, muscular body, stark naked, was found on the jams of ice around the 
southern piers of the Great Bridge, where the Long Dock stretched out beside 
Abbott's distil-house, and the identity of this object became a theme for endless 
speculation and whispering. It was not so much the younger as the older folk 
who whispered, for only in the patriarchs did that rigid face with horror-bulging 
eyes strike any chord of memory. They, shaking as they did so, exchanged 
furtive murmurs of wonder and fear; for in those stiff, hideous features lay a 
resemblance so marvellous as to be almost an identity - and that identity was 
with a man who had died full fifty years before. 

Ezra Weeden was present at the finding; and remembering the baying of the 
night before, set out along Weybosset Street and across Muddy Dock Bridge 
whence the sound had come. He had a curious expectancy, and was not 
surprised when, reaching the edge of the settled district where the street merged 
into the Pawtuxet Road, he came upon some very curious tracks in the snow. The 
naked giant had been pursued by dogs and many booted men, and the returning 
tracks of the hounds and their masters could be easily traced. They had given up 
the chase upon coming too near the town. Weeden smiled grimly, and as a 
perfunctory detail traced the footprints back to their source. It was the Pawtuxet 
farm of Joseph Curwen, as he well knew it would be; and he would have given 
much had the yard been less confusingly trampled. As it was, he dared not seem 
too interested in full daylight. Dr. Bowen, to whom Weeden went at once with 
his report, performed an autopsy on the strange corpse, and discovered 
peculiarities which baffled him utterly. The digestive tracts of the huge man 
seemed never to have been in use, whilst the whole skin had a coarse, loosely 
knit texture impossible to account for. Impressed by what the old men whispered 
of this body's likeness to the long-dead blacksmith Daniel Green, whose great- 
grandson Aaron Hoppin was a supercargo in Curwen's employ, Weeden asked 
casual questions till he found where Green was buried. That night a party of ten 
visited the old North Burying Ground opposite Herrenden's Lane and opened a 
grave. They found it vacant, precisely as they had expected. 



321 



Meanwhile arrangements had been made with the post riders to intercept Joseph 
Curwen's mail, and shortly before the incident of the naked body there was 
found a letter from one Jedediah Orne of Salem which made the cooperating 
citizens think deeply. Parts of it, copied and preserved in the private archives of 
the Smith family where Charles Ward found it, ran as follows. 

I delight that you continue in ye Gett'g at Olde Matters in your Way, and doe not 
think better was done at Mr. Hutchinson's in Salem- Village. Certainely, there 
was Noth'g but ye liveliest Awfulness in that which H. rais'd upp from What he 
cou'd gather onlie a part of. What you sente, did not Worke, whether because of 
Any Thing miss'g, or because ye Wordes were not Righte from my Speak'g or yr 
Copy'g. I alone am at a Loss. I have not ye Chymicall art to foUowe Borellus, and 
owne my Self confounded by ye VII. Booke of ye Necronomicon that you 
recommende. But I wou'd have you Observe what was told to us aboute tak'g 
Care whom to calle upp, for you are Sensible what Mr. Mather writ in ye 

Magnalia of , and can judge how truely that Horrendous thing is reported. I 

say to you againe, doe not call up Any that you can not put downe; by the Which 
I meane. Any that can in Turne call up Somewhat against you, whereby your 
PowerfuUest Devices may not be of use. Ask of the Lesser, lest the Greater shal 
not wish to Answer, and shal commande more than you. I was frighted when I 
read of your know'g what Ben Zariatnatmik hadde in his ebony Boxe, for I was 
conscious who must have tolde you. And againe I ask that you shalle write me as 
Jedediah and not Simon. In this Community a Man may not live too long, and 
you knowe my Plan by which I came back as my Son. I am desirous you will 
Acquaint me with what ye Black Man learnt from Sylvanus Cocidius in ye Vault, 
under ye Roman Wall, and will be oblig'd for ye lend'g of ye MS. you speak of. 

Another and unsigned letter from Philadelphia provoked equal thought, 
especially for the following passage: 

I will observe what you say respecting the sending of Accounts only by yr 
Vessels, but can not always be certain when to expect them. In the Matter spoke 
of, I require onlie one more thing; but wish to be sure I apprehend you exactly. 
You inform me, that no Part must be missing if the finest Effects are to be had, 
but you can not but know how hard it is to be sure. It seems a great Hazard and 
Burthen to take away the whole Box, and in Town (i.e. St. Peter's, St. Paul's, St. 
Mary's or Christ Church) it can scarce be done at all. But I know what 
Imperfections were in the one I rais'd up October last, and how many live 
Specimens you were forc'd to imploy before you hit upon the right Mode in the 
year 1766; so will be guided by you in all Matters. I am impatient for yr Brig, and 
inquire daily at Mr. Biddle's Wharf. 



322 



A third suspicious letter was in an unknown tongue and even an unknown 
alphabet. In the Smith diary found by Charles Ward a single oft-repeated 
combination of characters is clumsily copied; and authorities at Brown 
University have pronounced the alphabet Amharic or Abyssinian, although they 
do not recognise the word. None of these epistles was ever delivered to Curwen, 
though the disappearance of Jedediah Orne from Salem as recorded shortly 
afterward shewed that the Providence men took certain quiet steps. The 
Pennsylvania Historical Society also has some curious letters received by Dr. 
Shippen regarding the presence of an unwholesome character in Philadelphia. 
But more decisive steps were in the air, and it is in the secret assemblages of 
sworn and tested sailors and faithful old privateersmen in the Brown 
warehouses by night that we must look for the main fruits of Weeden's 
disclosures. Slowly and surely a plan of campaign was under development 
which would leave no trace of Joseph Curwen's noxious mysteries. 

Curwen, despite all precautions, apparently felt that something was in the wind; 
for he was now remarked to wear an unusually worried look. His coach was seen 
at all hours in the town and on the Pawtuxet Road, and he dropped little by little 
the air of forced geniality with which he had latterly sought to combat the town's 
prejudice. The nearest neighbours to his farm, the Fenners, one night remarked a 
great shaft of light shooting into the sky from some aperture in the roof of that 
cryptical stone building with the high, excessively narrow windows; an event 
which they quickly communicated to John Brown in Providence. Mr. Brown had 
become the executive leader of the select group bent on Curwen's extirpation, 
and had informed the Fenners that some action was about to be taken. This he 
deemed needful because of the impossibility of their not witnessing the final 
raid; and he explained his course by saying that Curwen was known to be a spy 
of the customs officers at Newport, against whom the hand of every Providence 
skipper, merchant, and farmer was openly or clandestinely raised. Whether the 
ruse was wholly believed by neighbours who had seen so many queer things is 
not certain; but at any rate the Fenners were willing to connect any evil with a 
man of such queer ways. To them Mr. Brown had entrusted the duty of watching 
the Curwen farmhouse, and of regularly reporting every incident which took 
place there. 



The probability that Curwen was on guard and attempting unusual things, as 
suggested by the odd shaft of light, precipitated at last the action so carefully 
devised by the band of serious citizens. According to the Smith diary a company 
of about 100 men met at 10 p.m. on Friday, April 12th, 1771, in the great room of 
Thurston's Tavern at the Sign of the Golden Lion on Weybosset Point across the 
Bridge. Of the guiding group of prominent men in addition to the leader John 



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Brown there were present Dr. Bowen, with his case of surgical instruments. 
President Manning without the great periwig (the largest in the Colonies) for 
which he was noted. Governor Hopkins, wrapped in his dark cloak and 
accompanied by his seafaring brother Esek, whom he had initiated at the last 
moment with the permission of the rest, John Carter, Capt. Mathewson, and 
Capt. Whipple, who was to lead the actual raiding party. These chiefs conferred 
apart in a rear chamber, after which Capt. Whipple emerged to the great room 
and gave the gathered seamen their last oaths and instructions. Eleazar Smith 
was with the leaders as they sat in the rear apartment awaiting the arrival of Ezra 
Weeden, whose duty was to keep track of Curwen and report the departure of 
his coach for the farm. 

About 10:30 a heavy rumble was heard on the Great Bridge, followed by the 
sound of a coach in the street outside; and at that hour there was no need of 
waiting for Weeden in order to know that the doomed man had set out for his 
last night of unhallowed wizardry. A moment later, as the receding coach 
clattered faintly over the Muddy Dock Bridge, Weeden appeared; and the raiders 
fell silently into military order in the street, shouldering the firelocks, fowling- 
pieces, or whaling harpoons which they had with them. Weeden and Smith were 
with the party, and of the deliberating citizens there were present for active 
service Capt. Whipple, the leader, Capt. Esek Hopkins, John Carter, President 
Manning, Capt. Mathewson, and Dr. Bowen; together with Moses Brown, who 
had come up at the eleventh hour though absent from the preliminary session in 
the tavern. All these freemen and their hundred sailors began the long march 
without delay, grim and a trifle apprehensive as they left the Muddy Dock 
behind and mounted the gentle rise of Broad Street toward the Pawtuxet Road. 
Just beyond Elder Snow's church some of the men turned back to take a parting 
look at Providence lying outspread under the early spring stars. Steeples and 
gables rose dark and shapely, and salt breezes swept up gently from the cove 
north of the Bridge. Vega was climbing above the great hill across the water, 
whose crest of trees was broken by the roof-line of the unfinished College edifice. 
At the foot of that hill, and along the narrow mounting lanes of its side, the old 
town dreamed; Old Providence, for whose safety and sanity so monstrous and 
colossal a blasphemy was about to be wiped out. 

An hour and a quarter later the raiders arrived, as previously agreed, at the 
Fenner farmhouse; where they heard a final report on their intended victim. He 
had reached his farm over half an hour before, and the strange light had soon 
afterward shot once more into the sky, but there were no lights in any visible 
windows. This was always the case of late. Even as this news was given another 
great glare arose toward the south, and the party realised that they had indeed 
come close to the scene of awesome and unnatural wonders. Capt. Whipple now 
ordered his force to separate into three divisions; one of twenty men under 



324 



Eleazar Smith to strike across to the shore and guard the landing-place against 
possible reinforcements for Curwen until summoned by a messenger for 
desperate service, a second of twenty men under Capt. Esek Hopkins to steal 
down into the river valley behind the Curwen farm and demolish with axes or 
gunpowder the oaken door in the high, steep bank, and the third to close in on 
the house and adjacent buildings themselves. Of this division one third was to be 
led by Capt. Mathewson to the cryptical stone edifice with high narrow 
windows, another third to follow Capt. Whipple himself to the main farmhouse, 
and the remaining third to preserve a circle around the whole group of buildings 
until summoned by a final emergency signal. 

The river party would break down the hillside door at the sound of a single 
whistle-blast, then wait and capture anything which might issue from the regions 
within. At the sound of two whistle-blasts it would advance through the 
aperture to oppose the enemy or join the rest of the raiding contingent. The party 
at the stone building would accept these respective signals in an analogous 
manner; forcing an entrance at the first, and at the second descending whatever 
passage into the ground might be discovered, and joining the general or focal 
warfare expected to take place within the caverns. A third or emergency signal of 
three blasts would summon the immediate reserve from its general guard duty; 
its twenty men dividing equally and entering the unknown depths through both 
farmhouse and stone building. Capt. Whipple's belief in the existence of 
catacombs was absolute, and he took no alternative into consideration when 
making his plans. He had with him a whistle of great power and shrillness, and 
did not fear any upsetting or misunderstanding of signals. The final reserve at 
the landing, of course, was nearly out of the whistle's range; hence would require 
a special messenger if needed for help. Moses Brown and John Carter went with 
Capt. Hopkins to the river-bank, while President Manning was detailed with 
Capt. Mathewson to the stone building. Dr. Bowen, with Ezra Weeden, remained 
in Capt. Whipple's party which was to storm the farmhouse itself. The attack was 
to begin as soon as a messenger from Capt. Hopkins had joined Capt. Whipple to 
notify him of the river party's readiness. The leader would then deliver the loud 
single blast, and the various advance parties would commence their 
simultaneous attack on three points. Shortly before 1 a.m. the three divisions left 
the Fenner farmhouse; one to guard the landing, another to seek the river valley 
and the hillside door, and the third to subdivide and attend to teh actual 
buildings of the Curwen farm. 

Eleazar Smith, who accompanied the shore-guarding party, records in his diary 
an uneventful march and a long wait on the bluff by the bay; broken once by 
what seemed to be the distant sound of the signal whistle and again by a peculiar 
muffled blend of roaring and crying and a powder blast which seemed to come 
from the same direction. Later on one man thought he caught some distant 



325 



gunshots, and still later Smith himself felt the throb of titanic and thunderous 
words resounding in upper air. It was just before dawn that a single haggard 
messenger with wild eyes and a hideous unknown odour about his clothing 
appeared and told the detachment to disperse quietly to their homes and never 
again think or speak of the night's doings or of him who had been Joseph 
Curwen. Something about the bearing of the messenger carried a conviction 
which his mere words could never have conveyed; for though he was a seaman 
well known to many of them, there was something obscurely lost or gained in his 
soul which set him for evermore apart. It was the same later on when they met 
other old companions who had gone into that zone of horror. Most of them had 
lost or gained something imponderable and indescribable. They had seen or 
heard or felt something which was not for human creatures, and could not forget 
it. From them there was never any gossip, for to even the commonest of mortal 
instincts there are terrible boundaries. And from that single messenger the party 
at the shore caught a nameless awe which almost sealed their own lips. Very few 
are the rumours which ever came from any of them, and Eleazar Smith's diary is 
the only written record which has survived from that whole expedition which set 
forth from the Sign of the Golden Lion under the stars. 

Charles Ward, however, discovered another vague sidelight in some Fenner 
correspondence which he found in New London, where he knew another branch 
of the family had lived. It seems that the Fenners, from whose house the doomed 
farm was distantly visible, had watched the departing columns of raiders; and 
had heard very clearly the angry barking of the Curwen dogs, followed by the 
first shrill blast which precipitated the attack. This blast had been followed by a 
repetition of the great shaft of light from the stone building, and in another 
moment, after a quick sounding of the second signal ordering a general invasion, 
there had come a subdued prattle of musketry followed by a horrible roaring cry 
which the correspondent Luke Fenner had represented in his epistle by the 
characters 'Waaaahrrrrr-R'waaahrrr.' 

This cry, however, had possessed a quality which no mere writing could convey, 
and the correspondent mentions that his mother fainted completely at the sound. 
It was later repeated less loudly, and further but more muffled evidences of 
gunfire ensued; together with a loud explosion of powder from the direction of 
the river. About an hour afterward all the dogs began to bark frightfully, and 
there were vague ground rumblings so marked that the candlesticks tottered on 
the mantelpiece. A strong smell of sulphur was noted; and Luke Tenner's father 
declared that he heard the third or emergency whistle signal, though the others 
failed to detect it. Muffled musketry sounded again, followed by a deep scream 
less piercing but even more horrible than the those which had preceded it; a kind 
of throaty, nastily plastic cough or gurgle whose quality as a scream must have 



326 



come more from its continuity and psychological import than from its actual 
acoustic value. 

Then the flaming thing burst into sight at a point where the Curwen farm ought 
to lie, and the human cries of desperate and frightened men were heard. Muskets 
flashed and cracked, and the flaming thing fell to the ground. A second flaming 
thing appeared, and a shriek of human origin was plainly distinguished. Fenner 
wrote that he could even gather a few words belched in frenzy: Almighty, 
protect thy lamb! Then there were more shots, and the second flaming thing fell. 
After that came silence for about three-quarters of an hour; at the end of which 
time little Arthur Fenner, Luke's brother, exclaimed that he saw "a red fog" 
going up to the stars from the accursed farm in the distance. No one but the child 
can testify to this, but Luke admits the significant coincidence implied by the 
panic of almost convulsive fright which at the same moment arched the backs 
and stiffened the fur of the three cats then within the room. 

Five minutes later a chill wind blew up, and the air became suffused with an 
intolerable stench that only the strong freshness of the sea could have prevented 
its being notice by the shore party or by any wakeful souls in the Pawtuxet 
village. This stench was nothing which any of the Tenners had ever encountered 
before, and produced a kind of clutching, amorphous fear beyond that of the 
tomb or the charnel-house. Close upon it came the awful voice which no hapless 
hearer will ever be able to forget. It thundered out of the sky like a doom, and 
windows rattled as its echoes died away. It was deep and musical; powerful as a 
bass organ, but evil as the forbidden books of the Arabs. What it said no man can 
tell, for it spoke in an unknown tongue, but this is the writing Luke Fenner set 
down to portray the daemoniac intonations: 'DEESMEES JESHET BONE 
DOSEFE DUVEMA ENITEMOSS.' Not till the year 1919 did any soul link this 
crude transcript with anything else in mortal knowledge, but Charles Ward 
paled as he recognised what Mirandola had denounced in shudders as the 
ultimate horror among black magic's incantations. 

An unmistakable human shout or deep chorused scream seemed to answer this 
malign wonder from the Curwen farm, after which the unknown stench grew 
complex with an added odour equally intolerable. A wailing distinctly different 
from the scream now burst out, and was protracted ululantly in rising and falling 
paroxysms. At times it became almost articulate, though no auditor could trace 
any definite words; and at one point it seemed to verge toward the confines of 
diabolic and hysterical laughter. Then a yell of utter, ultimate fright and stark 
madness wrenched from scores of human throats - a yell which came strong and 
clear despite the depth from which it must have burst; after which darkness and 
silence ruled all things. Spirals of acrid smoke ascended to blot out the stars. 



327 



though no flames appeared and no buildings were observed to be gone or 
injured on the following day. 

Toward dawn two frightened messengers with monstrous and unplaceable 
odours saturating their clothing knocked at the Fenner door and requested a keg 
of rum, for which they paid very well indeed. One of them told the family that 
the affair of Joseph Curwen was over, and that the events of the night were not to 
be mentioned again. Arrogant as the order seemed, the aspect of him who gave it 
took away all resentment and lent it a fearsome authority; so that only these 
furtive letters of Luke Fenner, which he urged his Connecticut relative to 
destroy, remain to tell what was seen and heard. The non-compliance of that 
relative, whereby the letters were saved after all, has alone kept the matter from 
a merciful oblivion. Charles Ward had one detail to add as a result of a long 
canvass of Pawtuxet residents for ancestral traditions. Old Charles Slocum of that 
village said that there was known to his grandfather a queer rumour concerning 
a charred, distorted body found in the fields a week after the death of Joseph 
Curwen was announced. What kept the talk alive was the notion that this body, 
so far as could be seen in its burnt and twisted condition, was neither thoroughly 
human nor wholly allied to any animal which Pawtuxet folk had ever seen or 
read about. 



Not one man who participated in that terrible raid could ever be induced to say a 
word concerning it, and every fragment of the vague data which survives comes 
from those outside the final fighting party. There is something frightful in the 
care with which these actual raiders destroyed each scrap which bore the least 
allusion to the matter. Eight sailors had been killed, but although their bodies 
were not produced their families were satisfied with the statement that a clash 
with customs officers had occurred. The same statement also covered the 
numerous cases of wounds, all of which were extensively bandaged and treated 
only by Dr. Jabez Bowen, who had accompanied the party. Hardest to explain 
was the nameless odour clinging to all the raiders, a thing which was discussed 
for weeks. Of the citizen leaders, Capt. Whipple and Moses Brown were most 
severely hurt, and letters of their wives testify the bewilderment which their 
reticence and close guarding of their bandages produced. Psychologically every 
participant was aged, sobered, and shaken. It is fortunate that they were all 
strong men of action and simple, orthodox religionists, for with more subtle 
introspectiveness and mental complexity they would have fared ill indeed. 
President Manning was the most disturbed; but even he outgrew the darkest 
shadow, and smothered memories in prayers. Every man of those leaders had a 
stirring part to play in later years, and it is perhaps fortunate that this is so. Little 
more than a twelvemonth afterward Capt. Whipple led the mob who burnt the 



328 



revenue ship Gaspee, and in this bold act we may trace one step in the blotting 
out of unwholesome images. 

There was delivered to the widow of Joseph Curwen a sealed leaden coffin of 
curious design, obviously found ready on the spot when needed, in which she 
was told her husband's body lay. He had, it was explained, been killed in a 
customs battle about which it was not politic to give details. More than this no 
tongue ever uttered of Joseph Curwen's end, and Charles Ward had only a single 
hint wherewith to construct a theory. This hint was the merest thread - a shaky 
underscoring of a passage in Jedediah Orne's confiscated letter to Curwen, as 
partly copied in Ezra Weeden's handwriting. The copy was found in the 
possession of Smith's descendants; and we are left to decide whether Weeden 
gave it to his companion after the end, as a mute clue to the abnormality which 
had occurred, or whether, as is more probable. Smith had it before, and added 
the underscoring himself from what he had managed to extract from his friend 
by shrewd guessing and adroit cross-questioning. The underlined passage is 
merely this: 

I say to you againe, doe not call up Any that you can not put downe; by the 
Which I meane. Any that can in Turne call up Somewhat against you, whereby 
your Powerfullest Devices may not be of use. Ask of the Lesser, lest the Greater 
shal not wish to Answer, and shal commande more than you. 

In the light of this passage, and reflecting on what last unmentionable allies a 
beaten man might try to summon in his direst extremity, Charles Ward may well 
have wondered whether any citizen of Providence killed Joseph Curwen. 

The deliberate effacement of every memory of the dead man from Providence life 
and annals was vastly aided by the influence of the raiding leaders. They had not 
at first meant to be so thorough, and had allowed the widow and her father and 
child to remain in ignorance of the true conditions; but Capt. Tillinghast was an 
astute man, and soon uncovered enough rumours to whet his horror and cause 
him to demand that the daughter and granddaughter change their name, burn 
the library and all remaining papers, and chisel the inscription from the slate slab 
above Joseph Curwen's grave. He knew Capt. Whipple well, and probably 
extracted more hints from that bluff mariner and anyone else ever gained 
repecting the end of the accursed sorcerer. 

From that time on the obliteration of Curwen's memory became increasingly 
rigid, extending at last by common consent even to the town records and files of 
the Gazette. It can be compared in spirit only to the hush that lay on Oscar 
Wilde's name for a decade after his disgrace, and in extent only to the fate of that 



329 



sinful King of Runazar in Lord Dunsany's tale, whom the Gods decided must not 
only cease to be, but must cease ever to have been. 

Mrs. Tillinghast, as the widow became known after 1772, sold the house in Olney 
Court and resided with her father in Power's Lane till her death in 1817. The 
farm at Pawtuxet, shunned by every living soul, remained to moulder through 
the years; and seemed to decay with unaccountable rapidity. By 1780 only the 
stone and brickwork were standing, and by 1800 even these had fallen to 
shapeless heaps. None ventured to pierce the tangled shrubbery on the river- 
bank behind which the hillside door may have lain, nor did any try to frame a 
definite image of the scenes amidst which Joseph Curwen departed from the 
horrors he had wrought. 

Only robust old Capt. Whipple was heard by alert listeners to mutter once in a 

while to himself, "Pox on that , but he had no business to laugh while he 

screamed. 'Twas as though the damn'd had some'at up his sleeve. For half a 

crown I'd burn his home.' 

III. A Search and an Evocation 



Charles Ward, as we have seen, first learned in 1918 of his descent from Joseph 
Curwen. That he at once took an intense interest in everything pertaining to the 
bygone mystery is not to be wondered at; for every vague rumour that he had 
heard of Curwen now became something vital to himself, in whom flowed 
Curwen's blood. No spirited and imaginative genealogist could have done 
otherwise than begin forthwith an avid and systematic collection of Curwen 
data. 

In his first delvings there was not the slightest attempt at secrecy; so that even 
Dr. Lyman hesitates to date the youth's madness from any period before the 
close of 1919. He talked freely with his family - though his mother was not 
particularly pleased to own an ancestor like Curwen - and with the officials of 
the various museums and libraries he visited. In applying to private families for 
records thought to be in their possession he made no concealment of his object, 
and shared the somewhat amused scepticism with which the accounts of the old 
diarists and letter-writers were regarded. He often expressed a keen wonder as 
to what really had taken place a century and a half before at the Pawtuxet 
farmhouse whose site he vainly tried to find, and what Joseph Curwen really had 
been. 



330 



When he came across the Smith diary and archives and encountered the letter 
from Jedediah Orne he decided to visit Salem and look up Curwen's early 
activities and connexions there, which he did during the Easter vacation of 1919. 
At the Essex Institute, which was well known to him from former sojourns in the 
glamorous old town of crumbling Puritan gables and clustered gambrel roofs, he 
was very kindly received, and unearthed there a considerable amount of Curwen 
data. He found that his ancestor was born in Salem-Village, now Danvers, seven 
miles from town, on the eighteenth of February (O.S.) 1662-3; and that he had run 
away to sea at the age of fifteen, not appearing again for nine years, when he 
returned with the speech, dress, and manners of a native Englishman and settled 
in Salem proper. At that time he had little to do with his family, but spent most 
of his hours with the curious books he had brought from Europe, and the strange 
chemicals which came for him on ships from England, France, and Holland. 
Certain trips of his into the country were the objects of much local 
inquisitiveness, and were whisperingly associated with vague rumours of fires 
on the hills at night. 

Curwen's only close friends had been one Edward Hutchinson of Salem-Village 
and one Simon Orne of Salem. With these men he was often seen in conference 
about the Common, and visits among them were by no means infrequent. 
Hutchinson had a house well out toward the woods, and it was not altogether 
liked by sensitive people because of the sounds heard there at night. He was said 
to entertain strange visitors, and the lights seen from his windows were not 
always of the same colour. The knowledge he displayed concerning long-dead 
persons and long-forgotten events was considered distinctly unwholesome, and 
he disappeared about the time the witchcraft panic began, never to be heard 
from again. At that time Joseph Curwen also departed, but his settlement in 
Providence was soon learned of. Simon Orne lived in Salem until 1720, when his 
failure to grow visibly old began to excite attention. He thereafter disappeared, 
though thirty years later his precise counterpart and self-styled son turned up to 
claim his property. The claim was allowed on the strength of documents in 
Simon Orne's known hand, and Jedediah Orne continued to dwell in Salem till 
1771, when certain letters from Providence citizens to the Rev. Thomas Barnard 
and others brought about his quiet removal to parts unknown. 

Certain documents by and about all of the strange characters were available at 
teh Essex Institute, the Court House, and the Registry of Deeds, and included 
both harmless commonplaces such as land titles and bills of sale, and furtive 
fragments of a more provocative nature. There were four or five unmistakable 
allusions to them on the witchcraft trial records; as when one Hepzibah Lawson 
swore on July 10, 1692, at the Court of Oyer and Terminer under Judge 
Hathorne, that: 'fortie Witches and the Blacke Man were wont to meete in the 
Woodes behind Mr. Hutchinson's house', and one Amity How declared at a 



331 



session of August 8th before Judge Gedney that:'Mr. G. B. (Rev. George 
Burroughs) on that Nighte putt ye Divell his Marke upon Bridget S., Jonathan A., 
Simon O., Dehverance W., Joseph C, Susan P., Mehitable C, and Deborah B.' 

Then there was a catalogue of Hutchinson's uncanny Hbrary as found after his 
disappearance, and an unfinished manuscript in his handwriting, couched in a 
cipher none could read. Ward had a photostatic copy of this manuscript made, 
and began to work casually on the cipher as soon as it was delivered to him. 
After the following August his labours on the cipher became intense and 
feverish, and there is reason to believe from his speech and conduct that he hit 
upon the key before October or November. He never stated, though, whether or 
not he had succeeded. 

But of greatest immediate interest was the Orne material. It took Ward only a 
short time to prove from identity of penmanship a thing he had already 
considered established from the text of the letter to Curwen; namely, that Simon 
Orne and his supposed son were one and the same person. As Orne had said to 
his correspondent, it was hardly safe to live too long in Salem, hence he resorted 
to a thirty -year sojourn abroad, and did not return to claim his lands except as a 
representative of a new generation. Orne had apparently been careful to destroy 
most of his correspondence, but the citizens who took action in 1771 found and 
preserved a few letters and papers which excited their wonder. There were 
cryptic formulae and diagrams in his and other hands which Ward now either 
copied with care or had photographed, and one extremely mysterious letter in a 
chirography that the searcher recognised from items in the Registry of Deeds as 
positively Joseph Curwen's. 

This Curwen letter, though undated as to the year, was evidently not the one in 
answer to which Orne had written the confiscated missive; and from internal 
evidence Ward placed it not much later than 1750. It may not be amiss to give the 
text in full, as a sample of the style of one whose history was so dark and terrible. 
The recipient is addressed as "Simon", but a line (whether drawn by Curwen or 
Orne Ward could not tell) is run through the word. 

Providence, 1. May 

Brother:- 

My honour'd Antient Friende, due Respects and earnest Wishes to Him whom 
we serue for yr eternall Power. I am just come upon That which you ought to 
knowe, concern'g the Matter of the Laste Extremitie and what to doe regard'g yt. 
I am not dispos'd to foUowe you in go'g Away on acct. of my Yeares, for 
Prouidence hath not ye Sharpeness of ye Bay in hunt'g oute uncommon Things 



332 



and bringinge to Tryall. I am ty'd up in Shippes and Goodes, and cou'd not doe 
as you did, besides the Whiche my Farme at Patuxet hath under it What you 
Knowe, and wou'd not waite for my com'g Backe as an Other. 

But I am unreadie for harde Fortunes, as I haue tolde you, and haue longe 
work'd upon ye Way of get'g Backe after ye Laste. I laste Night strucke on ye 
Wordes that bringe up YOGGE-SOTHOTHE, and sawe for ye first Time that 

Face spoke of by Ibn Schacabao in ye . And IT said, that ye III Psalme in ye 

Liber-Damnatus holdes ye Clauicle. With Sunne in V House, Saturne in Trine, 
drawe ye Pentagram of Fire, and saye ye ninth Uerse thrice. This Uerse repeate 
eache Roodemas and Hallow's Eue; and ye Thing will breede in ye Outside 
Spheres. 

And of ye Seede of Olde shal One be borne who shal looke Backe, tho' know'g 
not what he seekes. 

Yett will this auaile Nothing if there be no Heir, and if the Saltes, or the Way to 
make the Saltes, bee not Readie for his Hande; and here I will owne, I haue not 
taken needed Stepps nor founde Much. Ye Process is plaguy harde to come 
neare; and it used up such a Store of Specimens, I am harde putte to it to get 
Enough, notwithstand'g the Sailors I haue from ye Indies. Ye People aboute are 
become curious, but I can stande them off. Ye Gentry are worse that the 
Populace, be'g more Circumstantiall in their Accts. and more belieu'd in what 
they tell. That Parson and Mr. Merritt haue talk'd Some, I am fearfuU, but no 
Thing soe far is Dangerous. Ye Chymical Substances are easie of get'g, there be'g 
II. goode Chymists in Towne, Dr, Bowen and Sam: Carew. I am foll'g oute what 
Borellus saith, and haue Helpe in Abdool Al-Hazred his VII. Booke. Whateuer I 
gette, you shal haue. And in ye meane while, do not neglect to make use of ye 
Wordes I haue here giuen. I haue them Righte, but if you Desire to see HIM, 

imploy the Writings on ye Piece of that I am putt'g in this Packet. Saye ye 

Uerses euery Roodmas and Hallow's Eue; and if ye Line runn out not, one shal 
bee in yeares to come that shal looke backe and use what Saltes or Stuff for Saltes 
you shal leaue him. Job XIV. XIV. 

I rejoice you are again at Salem, and hope I may see you not longe hence. I haue a 
goode Stallion, and am think'g of get'g a Coach, there be'g one (Mr. Merritt's) in 
Prouidence already, tho' ye Roades are bad. If you are dispos'd to Trauel, doe 
not pass me bye. From Boston take ye Post Rd. thro' Dedham, Wrentham, and 
Attleborough, goode Tauerns be'g at all these Townes. Stop at Mr. Balcom's in 
Wrentham, where ye Beddes are finer than Mr. Hatch's, but eate at ye other 
House for their Cooke is better. Turne into Prou. by Patucket Falls, and ye Rd. 
past Mr. Sayles's Tauern. My House opp. Mr. Epenetus Olney's Tauern off ye 



333 



Towne Street, 1st on ye N. side of Olney's Court. Distance from Boston Stone abt. 
XLIV Miles. 

Sir, I am ye olde and true Friend and Serut. in Almonsin-Metraton. 

Josephus C. 

To Mr. Simon Orne, 

William 's-Lane, in Salem. 

This letter, oddly enough, was what first gave Ward the exact location of 
Curwen's Providence home; for none of the records encountered up to that time 
had been at all specific. The discovery was doubly striking because it indicated as 
the newer Curwen house, built in 1761 on the site of the old, a dilapidated 
building still standing in Olney Court and well known to Ward in his 
antiquarian rambles over Stampers' Hill. The place was indeed only a few 
squares from his own home on the great hill's higher ground, and was now the 
abode of a negro family much esteemed for occasional washing, housecleaning, 
and furnace-tending services. To find, in distant Salem, such sudden proof of the 
significance of this familiar rookery in his own family history, was a highly 
impressive thing to Ward; and he resolved to explore the place immediately 
upon his return. The more mystical phases of the letter, which he took to be some 
extravagant kind of symbolism, frankly baffled him; though he noted with a 
thrill of curiousity that the Biblical passage referred to - Job 14,14 - was the 
familiar verse, 'If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed 
time will I wait, until my change come.' 



Young Ward came home in a state of pleasant excitement, and spent the 
following Saturday in a long and exhaustive study of the house in Olney Court. 
The place, now crumbling with age, had never been a mansion; but was a modest 
two-and-a-half story wooden town house of the familiar Providence colonial 
type, with plain peaked roof, large central chimney, and artistically carved 
doorway with rayed fanlight, triangular pediment, and trim Doric pilasters. It 
had suffered but little alteration externally, and Ward felt he was gazing on 
something very close to the sinister matters of his quest. 

The present negro inhabitants were known to him, and he was very courteously 
shewn about the interior by old Asa and his stout wife Hannah. Here there was 
more change than the outside indicated, and Ward saw with regret that fully half 
of the fine scroll-and-urn overmantels and shell-carved cupboard linings were 
gone, whilst most of the fine wainscotting and bolection moulding was marked. 



334 



hacked, and gouged, or covered up altogether with cheap wall-paper. In general, 
the survey did not yield as much as Ward had somehow expected; but it was at 
least exciting to stand within the ancestral walls which had housed such a man of 
horror as Joseph Curwen. He saw with a thrill that a monogram had been very 
carefully effaced from the ancient brass knocker. 

From then until after the close of school Ward spent his time on the photostatic 
copy of the Hutchinson cipher and the accumulation of local Curwen data. The 
former still proved unyielding; but of the latter he obtained so much, and so 
many clues to similar data elsewhere, that he was ready by July to make a trip to 
New London and New York to consult old letters whose presence in those places 
was indicated. This trip was very fruitful, for it brought him the Tenner letters 
with their terrible description of the Pawtuxet farmhouse raid, and the 
Nightingale-Talbot letters in which he learned of the portrait painted on a panel 
of the Curwen library. This matter of the portrait interested him particularly, 
since he would have given much to know just what Joseph Curwen looked like; 
and he decided to make a second search of the house in Olney Court to see if 
there might not be some trace of the ancient features beneath peeling coats of 
later paint or layers of mouldy wall-paper. 

Early in August that search took place, and Ward went carefully over the walls 
of every room sizeable enough to have been by any possibility the library of the 
evil builder. He paid especial attention to the large panels of such overmantels as 
still remained; and was keenly excited after about an hour, when on a broad area 
above the fireplace in a spacious ground-floor room he became certain that the 
surface brought out by the peeling of several coats of paint was sensibly darker 
than any ordinary interior paint or the wood beneath it was likely to have been. 
A few more careful tests with a thin knife, and he knew that he had come upon 
an oil portrait of great extent. With truly scholarly restraint the youth did not risk 
the damage which an immediate attempt to uncover the hidden picture with the 
knife might have been, but just retired from the scene of his discovery to enlist 
expert help. In three days he returned with an artist of long experience, Mr. 
Walter C. Dwight, whose studio is near the foot of College Hill; and that 
accomplished restorer of paintings set to work at once with proper methods and 
chemical substances. Old Asa and his wife were duly excited over their strange 
visitors, and were properly reimbursed for this invasion of their domestic hearth. 

As day by the day the work of restoration progressed, Charles Ward looked on 
with growing interest at the lines and shades gradually unveiled after their long 
oblivion. Dwight had begun at the bottom; hence since the picture was a three- 
quarter-length one, the face did not come out for some time. It was meanwhile 
seen that the subject was a spare, well-shaped man with dark-blue coat, 
embroidered waistcoat, black satin small-clothes, and white silk stockings, seated 



335 



in a carved chair against the background of a window with wharves and ships 
beyond. When the head came out it was observed to bear a neat Albemarle wig, 
and to possess a thin, calm, undistinguished face which seemed somehow 
familiar to both Ward and the artist. Only at the very last, though, did the 
restorer and his client begin to grasp with astonishment at the details of that lean, 
pallid visage, and to recognise with a touch of awe the dramatic trick which 
heredity had played. For it took the final bath of oil and the final stroke of the 
delicate scraper to bring out fully the expression which centuries had hidden; 
and to confront the bewildered Charles Dexter Ward, dweller in the past, with 
his own living features in the countenance of his horrible great-great-great- 
grandfather. 

Ward brought his parents to see the marvel he had uncovered, and his father at 
once determined to purchase the picture despite its execution on stationary 
panelling. The resemblance to the boy, despite an appearance of rather great age, 
was marvellous; and it could be seen that through some trick of atavism the 
physical contours of Joseph Curwen had found precise duplication after a 
century and a half. Mrs. Ward's resemblance to her ancestor was not at all 
marked, though she could recall relatives who had some of the facial 
characteristics shared by her son and by the bygone Curwen. She did not relish 
the discovery, and told her husband that he had better burn the picture instead 
of bringing it home. There was, she averred, something unwholesome about it; 
not only intrinsically, but in its very resemblance to Charles. Mr. Ward, however, 
was a practical man of power and affairs - a cotton manufacturer with extensive 
mills at Riverpoint in the Pawtuxet Valley - and not one to listen to feminine 
scruples. The picture impressed him mightily with its likeness to his son, and he 
believed the boy deserved it as a present. In this opinion, it is needless to say, 
Charles most heartily concurred; and a few days later Mr. Ward located the 
owner of the house - a small rodent-featured person with a guttural accent - and 
obtained the whole mantel and overmantel bearing the picture at a curtly fixed 
price which cut short the impending torrent of unctuous haggling. 

It now remained to take off the panelling and remove it to the Ward home, 
where provisions were made for its thorough restoration and installation with an 
electric mock-fireplace in Charles's third-floor study or library. To Charles was 
left the task of superintending this removal, and on the twenty -eighth of August 
he accompanied two expert workmen from the Crooker decorating firm to the 
house in Olney Court, where the mantel and portrait-bearing overmantel were 
detached with great care and precision for transportation in the company's 
motor truck. There was left a space of exposed brickwork marking the chimney's 
course, and in this young Ward observed a cubical recess about a foot square, 
which must have lain directly behind the head of the portrait. Curious as to what 
such a space might mean or contain, the youth approached and looked within; 



336 



finding beneath the deep coatings of dust and soot some loose yellowed papers, 
a crude, thick copybook, and a few mouldering textile shreds which may have 
formed the ribbon binding the rest together. Blowing away the bulk of the dirt 
and cinders, he took up the book and looked at the bold inscription on its cover. 
It was in a hand which he had learned to recognise at the Essex Institute, and 
proclaimed the volume as the 'Journall and Notes of Jos: Curwen, Gent, of 
Prouidence-Plantations, Late of Salem.' 

Excited beyond measure by his discovery. Ward shewed the book to the two 
curious workmen beside him. Their testimony is absolute as to the nature and 
genuineness of the finding, and Dr. Willett relies on them to help establish his 
theory that the youth was not mad when he began his major eccentricities. All 
the other papers were likewise in Curwen's handwriting, and one of them 
seemed especially portentous because of its inscription: 'To Him Who Shal Come 
After, & How He May Gett Beyonde Time & Ye Spheres.' 

Another was in a cipher; the same. Ward hoped, as the Hutchinson cipher which 
had hitherto baffled him. A third, and here the searcher rejoiced, seemed to be a 
key to the cipher; whilst the fourth and fifth were addressed respectively 
to:'Edw: Hutchinson, Armiger' and Jedediah Orne, esq.', 'or Their Heir or Heirs, 
or Those Represent'g Them.' The sixth and last was inscribed: 'Joseph Curwen 
his Life and Travells Bet'n ye yeares 1678 and 1687: Of Whither He Voyag'd, 
Where He Stay'd, Whom He Sawe, and What He Learnt.' 



We have now reached the point from which the more academic school of 
alienists date Charles Ward's madness. Upon his discovery the youth had looked 
immediately at a few of the inner pages of the book and manuscripts, and had 
evidently seen something which impressed him tremendously. Indeed, in 
shewing the titles to the workmen, he appeared to guard the text itself with 
peculiar care, and to labour under a perturbation for which even the antiquarian 
and genealogical significance of the find could hardly account. Upon returning 
home he broke the news with an almost embarrassed air, as if he wished to 
convey an idea of its supreme importance without having to exhibit the evidence 
itself. He did not even shew the titles to his parents, but simply told them that he 
had found some documents in Joseph Curwen's handwriting, 'mostly in cipher', 
which would have to be studied very carefully before yielding up their true 
meaning. It is unlikely that he would have shewn what he did to the workmen, 
had it not been for their unconcealed curiousity. As it was he doubtless wished to 
avoid any display of peculiar reticence which would increase their discussion of 
the matter. 



337 



That night Charles Ward sat up in his room reading the new-found book and 
papers, and when day came he did not desist. His meals, on his urgent request 
when his mother called to see what was amiss, were sent up to him; and in the 
afternoon he appeared only briefly when the men came to install the Curwen 
picture and mantelpiece in his study. The next night he slept in snatches in his 
clothes, meanwhile wrestling feverishly with the unravelling of the cipher 
manuscript. In the morning his mother saw that he was at work on the 
photostatic copy of the Hutchinson cipher, which he had frequently shewn her 
before; but in response to her query he said that the Curwen key could not be 
applied to it. That afternoon he abandoned his work and watched the men 
fascinatedly as they finished their installation of the picture with its woodwork 
above a cleverly realistic electric log, setting the mock-fireplace and overmantel a 
little out from the north wall as if a chimney existed, and boxing in the sides with 
panelling to match the room's. The front panel holding the picture was sawn and 
hinged to allow cupboard space behind it. After the workmen went he moved his 
work into the study and sat down before it with his eyes half on the cipher and 
half on the portrait which stared back at him like a year-adding and century- 
recalling mirror. 

His parents, subsequently recalling his conduct at this period, give interesting 
details anent the policy of concealment which he practised. Before servants he 
seldom hid any paper which he might by studying, since he rightly assumed that 
Curwen's intricate and archaic chirography would be too much for them. With 
his parents, however, he was more circumspect; and unless the manuscript in 
question were a cipher, or a mere mass of cryptic symbols and unknown 
ideographs (as that entitled 'To Him Who Shal Come After, etc' seemed to be), 
he would cover it with some convenient paper until his caller had departed. At 
night he kept the papers under lock and key in an antique cabinet of his, where 
he also placed them whenever he left the room. He soon resumed fairly regular 
hours and habits, except that his long walks and other outside interests seemed 
to cease. The opening of school, where he now began his senior year, seemed a 
great bore to him; and he frequently asserted his determination never to bother 
with college. He had, he said, important special investigations to make, which 
would provide him with more avenues toward knowledge and the humanities 
than any university which the world could boast. 

Naturally, only one who had always been more or less studious, eccentric, and 
solitary could have pursued this course for many days without attracting notice. 
Ward, however, was constitutionally a scholar and a hermit; hence his parents 
were less surprised than regretful at the close confinement and secrecy he 
adopted. At the same time, both his father and mother thought it odd that he 
would shew them no scrap of his treasure-trove, nor give any connected account 
of such data as he had deciphered. This reticence he explained away as due to a 



338 



wish to wait until he might announce some connected revelation, but as the 
weeks passed without further disclosures there began to grow up between the 
youth and his family a kind of constraint; intensified in his mother's case by her 
manifest disapproval of all Curwen delvings. 

During October Ward began visiting the libraries again, but no longer for the 
antiquarian matter of his former days. Witchcraft and magic, occultism and 
daemonology, were what he sought now; and when Providence sources proved 
unfruitful he would take the train for Boston and tap the wealth of the great 
library in Copley Square, the Widener Library at Harvard, or the Zion Research 
Library in Brookline, where certain rare works on Biblical subjects are available. 
He bought extensively, and fitted up a whole additional set of shelves in his 
study for newly acquired works on uncanny subjects; while during the 
Christmas holidays he made a round of out-of-town trips including one to Salem 
to consult certain records at the Essex Institute. 

About the middle of January, 1920, there entered Ward's bearing an element of 
triumph which he did not explain, and he was no more found at work upon the 
Hutchinson cipher. Instead, he inaugurated a dual policy of chemical research 
and record-scanning; fitting up for the one a laboratory in the unused attic of the 
house, and for the latter haunting all the sources of vital statistics in Providence. 
Local dealers in drugs and scientific supplies, later questioned, gave 
astonishingly queer and meaningless catalogues of the substances and 
instruments he purchased; but clerks at the State House, the City Hall, and the 
various libraries agree as to the definite object of his second interest. He was 
searching intensely and feverishly for the grave of Joseph Curwen, from whose 
slate slab an older generation had so wisely blotted the name. 

Little by little there grew upon the Ward family the conviction that something 
was wrong. Charles had had freaks and changes of minor interests before, but 
this growing secrecy and absorption in strange pursuits was unlike even him. 
His school work was the merest pretence; and although he failed in no test, it 
could be seen that the older application had all vanished. He had other 
concernments now; and when not in his new laboratory with a score of obsolete 
alchemical books, could be found either poring over old burial records down 
town or glued to his volumes of occult lore in his study, where the startlingly - 
one almost fancied increasingly - similar features of Joseph Curwen stared 
blandly at him from the great overmantel on the North wall. 

Late in March Ward added to his archive-searching a ghoulish series of rambles 
about the various ancient cemeteries of the city. The cause appeared later, when 
it was learned from City Hall clerks that he had probably found an important 
clue. His quest had suddenly shifted from the grave of Joseph Curwen to that of 



339 



one Naphthali Field; and this shift was explained when, upon going over the files 
that he had been over, the investigators actually found a fragmentary record of 
Curwen's burial which had escaped the general obliteration, and which stated 
that the curious leaden coffin had been interred '10 ft. S. and 5 ft. W. of Naphthali 
Field's grave in y-.' The lack of a specified burying-ground in the surviving entry 
greatly complicated the search, and Naphthali Field's grave seemed as elusive as 
that of Curwen; but here no systematic effacement had existed, and one might 
reasonably be expected to stumble on the stone itself even if its record had 
perished. Hence the rambles - from which St. John's (the former King's) 
Churchyard and the ancient Congregational burying-ground in the midst of 
Swan Point Cemetery were excluded, since other statistics had shewn that the 
only Naphthali Field (obiit 1729) whose grave could have been meant had been a 
Baptist. 



It was toward May when Dr. Willett, at the request of the senior Ward, and 
fortified with all the Curwen data which the family had gleaned from Charles in 
his non-secretive days, talked with the young man. The interview was of little 
value or conclusiveness, for Willett felt at every moment that Charles was 
thorough master of himself and in touch with matters of real importance; but it 
at least force the secretive youth to offer some rational explanation of his recent 
demeanour. Of a pallid, impassive type not easily shewing embarrassment. 
Ward seemed quite ready to discuss his pursuits, though not to reveal their 
object. He stated that the papers of his ancestor had contained some remarkable 
secrets of early scientific knowledge, for the most part in cipher, of an apparent 
scope comparable only to the discoveries of Friar Bacon and perhaps surpassing 
even those. They were, however, meaningless except when correlated with a 
body of learning now wholly obsolete; so that their immediate presentation to a 
world equipped only with modern science would rob them of all impressiveness 
and dramatic significance. To take their vivid place in the history of human 
thought they must first be correlated by one familiar with the background out of 
which they evolved, and to this task of correlation Ward was now devoting 
himself. He was seeking to acquire as fast as possible those neglected arts of old 
which a true interpreter of the Curwen data must possess, and hoped in time to 
made a full announcement and presentation of the utmost interest to mankind 
and to the world of thought. Not even Einstein, he declared, could more 
profoundly revolutionise the current conception of things. 

As to his graveyard search, whose object he freely admitted, but the details of 
whose progress he did not relate, he said he had reason to think that Joseph 
Curwen's mutilated headstone bore certain mystic symbols - carved from 
directions in his will and ignorantly spared by those who had effaced the name - 



340 



which were absolutely essential to the final solution of his cryptic system. 
Curwen, he believed, had wish to guard his secret with care; and had 
consequently distributed the data in an exceedingly curious fashion. When Dr. 
Willett asked to see the mystic documents. Ward displayed much reluctance and 
tried to put him off with such things as photostatic copies of the Hutchinson 
cipher and Orne formulae and diagrams; but finally shewed him the exteriors of 
some of the real Curwen finds - the 'Journall and Notes', the cipher (title in 
cipher also), and the formula-filled message 'To Him Who Shal Come After' - 
and let him glance inside such as were in obscure characters. 

He also opened the diary at a page carefully selected for its innocuousness and 
gave Willett a glimpse of Curwen's connected handwriting in English. The 
doctor noted very closely the crabbed and complicated letters, and the general 
aura of the seventeenth century which clung round both penmanship and style 
despite the writer's survival into the eighteenth century, and became quickly 
certain that the document was genuine. The text itself was relatively trivial, and 
Willett recalled only a fragment: 

'Wedn. 16 Octr. 1754. My Sloope the Wakeful this Day putt in from London with 
XX newe Men pick'd up in ye Indies, Spaniards from Martineco and 2 Dutch 
Men from Surinam. Ye Dutch Men are like to Desert from have'g hearde 
Somewhat ill of these Ventures, but I will see to ye Inducing of them to Staye. For 
Mr. Knight Dexter of ye Bay and Book 120 Pieces Camblets, 100 Pieces Assrtd. 
Cambleteens, 20 Pieces blue Duffles, 100 Pieces Shalloons, 50 Pieces 
Calamancoes, 300 Pieces each, Shendsoy and Humhums. For Mr. Green at ye 
Elephant 50 Gallon Cyttles, 20 Warm'g Pannes, 15 Bake Cyttles, 10 pr. Smoke'g 
Tonges. For Mr. Perrigo 1 Sett of Awles. For Mr. Nightingale 50 Reames prime 
Foolscap. Say'd ye SABAOTH thrice last Nighte but None appear'd. I must heare 
more from Mr. H. in Transylvania, tho' it is Harde reach'g him and exceeding 
strange he can not give me the Use of What he hath so well us'd these hundred 
Yeares. Simon hath not writ these V. Weekes, but I expecte soon hear'g from 
Him.' 

When upon reaching this point Dr. Willett turned the leaf he was quickly 
checked by Ward, who almost snatched the book from his grasp. All that the 
doctor had a chance to see on the newly opened page was a brief pair of 
sentences; but these, strangely enough, lingered tenacious in his memory. They 
ran: 'Ye Verse from Liber-Damnatus be'g spoke V Roodmasses and IV Hallows- 
Eves, I am Hopeful ye Thing is breed'g Outside ye Spheres. It will drawe One 
who is to Come, if I can make sure he shal Bee, and he shal think on Past Thinges 
and look back thro' all ye Yeares, against ye Which I must have ready ye Saltes or 
That to make 'em with.' 



341 



Willett saw no more, but somehow this small glimpse gave a new and vague 
terror to the painted features of Joseph Curwen which stared blandly down from 
the overmantel. Even after that he entertained the odd fancy - which his medical 
skill of course assured him was only a fancy - that the eyes of the portrait had a 
sort of wish, if not an actual tendency, to follow young Charles Ward as he move 
about the room. He stopped before leaving to study the picture closely, 
marvelling at its resemblance to Charles and memorising every minute detail of 
the cryptical, colourless face, even down to a slight scar or pit in the smooth 
brow above the right eye. Cosmo Alexander, he decided, was a painter worthy of 
the Scotland that produced Raeburn, and a teacher worthy of his illustrious pupil 
Gilbert Stuart. 

Assured by the doctor that Charles's mental health was in no danger, but that on 
the other hand he was engaged in researches which might prove of real 
importance, the Wards were more lenient than they might otherwise have been 
when during the following June the youth made positive his refusal to attend 
college. He had, he declared, studies of much more vital importance to pursue; 
and intimated a wish to go abroad the following year in order to avail himself of 
certain sources of data not existing in America. The senior Ward, while denying 
this latter wish as absurd for a boy of only eighteen, acquiesced regarding the 
university; so that after a none too brilliant graduation from the Moses Brown 
School there ensued for Charles a three-year period of intensive occult study and 
graveyard searching. He became recognised as an eccentric, and dropped even 
more completely from the sight of his family's friends than he had been before; 
keeping close to his work and only occasionally making trips to other cities to 
consult obscure records. Once he went south to talk to a strange mulatto who 
dwelt in a swamp and about whom a newspaper hand printed a curious article. 
Again he sought a small village in the Adirondacks whence reports of certain 
odd ceremonial practices had come. But still his parents forbade him the trip to 
the Old World which he desired. 

Coming of age in April, 1923, and having previously inherited a small 
competence from his maternal grandfather. Ward determined at last to take the 
European trip hitherto denied him. Of his proposed itinerary he would say 
nothing save that the needs of his studies would carry him to many places, but 
he promised to write his parents fully and faithfully. When they saw he could 
not be dissuaded, they ceased all opposition and helped as best they could; so 
that in June the young man sailed for Liverpool with the farewell blessings of his 
father and mother, who accompanied him to Boston and waved him out of sight 
from the White Star pier in Charlestown. Letters soon told of his safe arrival, and 
of his securing good quarters in Great Russell Street, London; where he proposed 
to stay, shunning all family friends, till he had exhausted the resources of the 
British Museum in a certain direction. Of his daily life he wrote by little, for there 



342 



was little to write. Study and experiment consumed all his time, and he 
mentioned a laboratory which he had established in one of his rooms. That he 
said nothing of antiquarian rambles in the glamorous old city with its luring 
skyline of ancient domes and steeples and its tangles of roads and alleys whose 
mystic convolutions and sudden vistas alternately beckon and surprise, was 
taken by his parents as a good index of the degree to which his new interests had 
engrossed his mind. 

In June, 1924, a brief note told of his departure for Paris, to which he had before 
made one or two flying trips for material in the Bibliotheque Nationale. For three 
months thereafter he sent only postal cards, giving an address in the Rue St. 
Jacques and referring to a special search among rare manuscripts in the library of 
an unnamed private collector. He avoided acquaintances, and no tourists 
brought back reports of having seen him. Then came a silence, and in October the 
Wards received a picture card from Prague, Czecho-Slovakia, stating that 
Charles was in that ancient town for the purpose of conferring with a certain 
very aged man supposed to be the last living possessor of some very curious 
mediaeval information. He gave an address in the Neustadt, and announced no 
move till the following January; when he dropped several cards from Vienna 
telling of his passage through that city on the way toward a more easterly region 
whither one of his correspondents and fellow-delvers into the occult had invited 
him. 

The next card was from Klausenburg in Transylvania, and told of Ward's 
progress toward his destination. He was going to visit a Baron Ferenczy, whose 
estate lay in the mountains east of Rakus; and was to be addressed at Rakus in 
the care of that nobleman. Another card from Rakus a week later, saying that his 
host's carriage had met him and that he was leaving the village for the 
mountains, was his last message for a considerable time; indeed, he did reply to 
his parents' frequent letters until May, when he wrote to discourage the plan of 
his mother for a meeting in London, Paris, or Rome during the summer, when 
the elder Wards were planning to travel to Europe. His researches, he said, were 
such that he could not leave his present quarters; while the situation of Baron 
Ferenczy's castle did not favour visits. It was on a crag in the dark wooded 
mountains, and the region was so shunned by the country folk that normal 
people could not help feeling ill at ease. Moreover, the Baron was not a person 
likely to appeal to correct and conservative New England gentlefolk. His aspect 
and manners had idiosyncrasies, and his age was so great as to be disquieting. It 
would be better, Charles said, if his parents would wait for his return to 
Providence; which could scarcely be far distant. 

That return did not, however, take place until May 1926, when after a few 
heralding cards the young wanderer quietly slipped into New York on the 



343 



Homeric and traversed the long miles to Providence by motor-coach, eagerly 
drinking in the green rolling hills, and fragrant, blossoming orchards, and the 
white steepled towns of vernal Connecticut; his first taste of ancient New 
England in nearly four years. When the coach crossed the Pawcatuck and 
entered Rhode Island amidst the faery goldenness of a late spring afternoon his 
heart beat with quickened force, and the entry to Providence along Reservoir and 
Elmwood Avenues was a breathless and wonderful thing despite the depths of 
forbidden lore to which he had delved. At the high square where Broad, 
Weybosset, and Empire Streets join, he saw before and below him in the fire of 
sunset the pleasant, remembered houses and domes and steeples of the old town; 
and his head swam curiously as the vehicle rolled down to the terminal behind 
the Biltmore, bringing into view the great dome and soft, roof-pierced greenery 
of the ancient hill across the river, and the tall colonial spire of the First Baptist 
Church limned pink in the magic evening against the fresh springtime verdure of 
its precipitous background. 

Old Providence! It was this place and the mysterious forces of its long, 
continuous history which had brought him into being, and which had drawn 
him back toward marvels and secrets whose boundaries no prophet might fix. 
Here lay the arcana, wondrous or dreadful as the case may be, for which all his 
years of travel and application had been preparing him. A taxicab whirled him 
through Post Office Square with its glimpse of the river, the old Market House, 
and the head of the bay, and up the steep curved slope of Waterman Street to 
Prospect, where the vast gleaming dome and sunset-flushed Ionic columns of the 
Christian Science Church beckoned northward. Then eight squares past the fine 
old estates his childish eyes had known, and the quaint brick sidewalks so often 
trodden by his youthful feet. And at last the little white overtaken farmhouse on 
the right, on the left the classic Adam porch and stately facade of the great brick 
house where he was born. It was twilight, and Charles Dexter Ward had come 
home. 



A school of alienists slightly less academic than Dr. Lyman's assign to Ward's 
European trip the beginning of his true madness. Admitting that he was sane 
when he started, they believe that his conduct upon returning implies a 
disastrous change. But even to this claim Dr. Willett refuses to concede. There 
was, he insists, something later; and the queerness of the youth at this stage he 
attributes to the practice of rituals learned abroad - odd enough things, to be 
sure, but by no means implying mental aberration on the part of their celebrant. 
Ward himself, though visibly aged and hardened, was still normal in his general 
reactions; and in several talks with Dr. Willett displayed a balance which no 
madman - even an incipient one - could feign continuously for long. What 



344 



elicited the notion of insanity at this period were the sounds heard at all hours 
from Ward's attic laboratory, in which he kept himself most of the time. There 
were chantings and repetitions, and thunderous declamations in uncanny 
rhythms; and although these sounds were always in Ward's own voice, there 
was something in the quality of that voice, and in the accents of the formulae it 
pronounced, which could not by chill the blood of every hearer. It was noticed 
that Nig, the venerable and beloved black cat of the household, bristled and 
arched his back perceptibly when certain of the tones were heard. 

The odours occasionally wafted from the laboratory were likewise exceedingly 
strange. Sometimes they were very noxious, but more often they were aromatic, 
with a haunting, elusive quality which seemed to have the power of inducing 
fantastic images. People who smelled them had a tendency to glimpse 
momentary mirages of enormous vistas, with strange hills or endless avenues of 
sphinxes and hippogriffs stretching off into infinite distance. Ward did not 
resume his old-time rambles, but applied himself diligently to the strange books 
he had brought home, and to equally strange delvings within his quarters; 
explaining that European sources had greatly enlarged the possibilities of his 
work, and promising great revelations in the years to come. His older aspect 
increased to a startling degree his resemblance to the Curwen portrait in his 
library; and Dr. Willett would often pause by the latter after a call, marvelling at 
the virtual identity, and reflecting that only the small pit above the picture's right 
eye now remained to differentiate the long-dead wizard from the living youth. 
These calls of Willett' s, undertaken at the request of teh senior Wards, were 
curious affairs. Ward at no time repulsed the doctor, but the latter saw that he 
could never reach the young man's inner psychology. Frequently he noted 
peculiar things about; little wax images of grotesque design on the shelves or 
tables, and the half-erased remnants of circles, triangles, and pentagrams in chalk 
or charcoal on the cleared central space of the large room. And always in the 
night those rhythms and incantations thundered, till it became very difficult to 
keep servants or suppress furtive talk of Charles's madness. 

In January, 1927, a peculiar incident occurred. One night about midnight, as 
Charles was chanting a ritual whose weird cadence echoed unpleasantly through 
the house below, there came a sudden gust of chill wind from the bay, and a 
faint, obscure trembling of the earth which everyone in the neighbourhood 
noted. At the same time the cat exhibited phenomenal traces of fright, while dogs 
bayed for as much as a mile around. This was the prelude to a sharp 
thunderstorm, anomalous for the season, which brought with it such a crash that 
Mr. and Mrs. Ward believed the house had been struck. They rushed upstairs to 
see what damage had been done, but Charles met them at the door to the attic; 
pale, resolute, and portentous, with an almost fearsome combination of triumph 
and seriousness on his face. He assured them that the house had not really been 



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struck, and that the storm would soon be over. They paused, and looking 
through a window saw that he was indeed right; for the lightning flashed farther 
and farther off, whilst the trees ceased to bend in the strange frigid gust from the 
water. The thunder sank to a sort of dull mumbling chuckle and finally died 
away. Stars came out, and the stamp of triumph on Charles Ward's face 
crystallised into a very singular expression. 

For two months or more after this incident Ward was less confined than usual to 
his laboratory. He exhibited a curious interest in the weather, and made odd 
inquires about the date of the spring thawing of the ground. One night late in 
March he left the house after midnight, and did not return till almost morning; 
when his mother, being wakeful, heard a rumbling motor draw up to the 
carriage entrance. Muffled oaths could be distinguished, and Mrs. Ward, rising 
and going to the window, saw four dark figures removing a long, heavy box 
from a truck at Charles's direction and carrying it within by the side door. She 
heard laboured breathing and ponderous footfalls on the stairs, and finally a dull 
thumping in the attic; after which the footfalls descended again, and the four 
reappeared outside and drove off in their truck. 

The next day Charles resumed his strict attic seclusion, drawing down the dark 
shades of his laboratory windows and appearing to be working on some metal 
substance. He would open the door to no one, and steadfastly refused all 
proffered food. About noon a wrenching sound followed by a terrible cry and a 
fall were heard, but when Mrs. Ward rapped at the door her son at length 
answered faintly, and told her that nothing had gone amiss. The hideous and 
indescribable stench now welling out was absolutely harmless and unfortunately 
necessary. Solitude was the one prime essential, and he would appear later for 
dinner. That afternoon, after the conclusion of some odd hissing sounds which 
came from behind the locked portal, he did finally appear; wearing an extremely 
haggard aspect and forbidding anyone to enter the laboratory upon any pretext. 
This, indeed, proved the beginning of a new policy of secrecy; for never 
afterward was any other person permitted to visit either the mysterious garret 
workroom or the adjacent storeroom which he cleaned out, furnished roughly, 
and added to his inviolable private domain as a sleeping apartment. Here he 
lived, with books brought up from his library beneath, till the time he purchased 
the Pawtuxet bungalow and moved to it all his scientific effects. 

In the evening Charles secured the paper before the rest of the family and 
damaged part of it through an apparent accident. Later on Dr. Willett, having 
fixed the date from statements by various members of the household, looked up 
an intact copy at the Journal office and found that in the destroyed section the 
following small item had occurred: 



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Nocturnal Diggers Surprised in North Burial Ground 

Robert Hart, night watchman at the North Burial Ground, this morning 
discovered a party of several men with a motor truck in the oldest part of the 
cemetery, but apparently frightened them off before they had accomplished 
whatever their object may have been. 

The discovery took place at about four o'clock, when Hart's attention was 
attracted by the sound of a motor outside his shelter. Investigating, he saw a 
large truck on the main drive several rods away; but could not reach it before the 
noise of his feet on the gravel had revealed his approach. The men hastily placed 
a large box in the truck and drove away toward the street before they could be 
overtaken; and since no known grave was disturbed. Hart believes that this box 
was an object which they wished to bury. 

The diggers must have been at work for a long while before detection, for Hart 
found an enormous hold dug at a considerable distance back from the roadway 
in the lot of Amasa Field, where most of the old stones have long ago 
disappeared. The hole, a place as large and deep as a grave, was empty; and did 
not coincide with any interment mentioned in the cemetery records. 

Sergt. Riley of the Second Station viewed the spot and gave the opinion that the 
hole was dug by bootleggers rather gruesomely and ingeniously seeking a safe 
cache for liquor in a place not likely to be disturbed. In reply to questions Hart 
said he though the escaping truck had headed up Rochambeau Avenue, though 
he could not be sure. 

During the next few days Charles Ward was seldom seen by his family. Having 
added sleeping quarters to his attic realm, he kept closely to himself there, 
ordering food brought to the door and not taking it in until after the servant had 
gone away. The droning of monotonous formulae and the chanting of bizarre 
rhythms recurred at intervals, while at other times occasional listeners could 
detect the sound of tinkling glass, hissing chemicals, running water, or roaring 
gas flames. Odours of the most unplaceable quality, wholly unlike any before 
noted, hung at times around the door; and the air of tension observable in the 
young recluse whenever he did venture briefly forth was such as to excite the 
keenest speculation. Once he made a hasty trip to the Athenaeum for a book he 
required, and again he hired a messenger to fetch him a highly obscure volume 
from Boston. Suspense was written portentously over the whole situation, and 
both the family and Dr. Willett confessed themselves wholly at a loss what to do 
or think about it. 



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Then on the fifteenth of April a strange development occurred. While nothing 
appeared to grow different in kind, there was certainly a very terrible difference 
in degree; and Dr. Willett somehow attaches great significance to the change. The 
day was Good Friday, a circumstance of which the servants made much, but 
which others quite naturally dismiss as an irrelevant coincidence. Late in the 
afternoon young Ward began repeating a certain formula in a singularly loud 
voice, at the same time burning some substance so pungent that its fumes 
escaped over the entire house. The formula was so plainly audible in the hall 
outside the locked door that Mrs. Ward could not help memorising it as she 
waited and listened anxiously, and later on she was able to write it down at Dr. 
Willett's request. It ran as follows, and experts have told Dr. Wil